Q3 2023 Quarterly Letter

 October 2023 

We hope that you had a pleasant summer and are looking forward to the joys that come with the changing of seasons. 

At the beginning of September, Ratio welcomed Jen Padgett to our troop. Jen is our new Client Service Manager and will be helping to make sure any activity related to your accounts is handled efficiently and effectively. Jen brings helpful experience in this area and she is a great addition to our team. 

Market movements over the last three months, and particularly in August and September, reflect many of the elements we highlighted in our last communication. 

Specifically, we indicated our belief that the following qualifiers would be central to market direction through the remainder of the year. 

• A recession is probably coming but more of the “mild” version. 

• Inflation has been slowing but is still above the Fed’s 2% target. 

• The Federal Reserve rate increases have had the desired effect, but they may feel the need to raise again to ensure inflation is stamped out. 

None of these issues were resolved in the quarter. Market performance reflected the cloudiness as the Russell 3000 index, which represents ~96% of the investable US equity market was down 3.25%. The MSCI All World Index (Includes US Equities) was down 3.40% 

We are focused on the following in the next twelve months: 

• Fed officials seem to be signaling another increase this year with consensus now expecting declines somewhere in the back half of 2024 and into 2025. 

• As investors find attractive yields in fixed income, expensive equities with higher risk profiles have underperformed. 

• Higher rates also increase costs for many companies, contributing to skepticism about next year’s earnings projections. 

Money market yields are currently above 5.00%, and the “higher for longer” narrative may support this level for the intermediate term. As investors start to look to 2024 and the potential for lower rates, we expect these yields will start to drop. In anticipation of this trend, we are beginning to explore fixed-income options with longer duration. The goal is to take advantage, within our fixed income allocations, of the highest bond yields since 2007. Yes, 2007! 

While in the early part of the year optimism led to some frothiness in a few market segments, the present fundamentals do justify defensive posturing. This is not a bearish call for the markets, rather recognizing the economic cycle is still working through challenges before a new growth phase can emerge. 

While the global economy has surprised some market observers with its resilience, many feel that growth expectations for the next twelve months leave little room for error and earnings estimates are yet to account for present pressures. At the same time, multiples for growth stocks remain high relative to historical averages, particularly for the “Magnificent Seven” (NVDA, META, AMZN, MSFT, AAPL, GOOGL, and TSLA). We may have seen the beginning of a reversal of the uptrend in these stocks in September, relative to the broader market performance. Whether or not this trend continues, we still have conviction in tilting our allocations with balance in mind. Our focus remains on larger companies that have strong balance sheets and are priced reasonably relative to growth expectations. Strategic additions are being made in small-sized companies, mid-sized companies, and targeted international markets that we feel are in oversold territory. 

Cautious optimism means not succumbing to short-term gyrations based on headlines. Rather, we are focused on the opportunities presented by fundamental factors relative to prices being paid for discounted dividends and future growth. 

Modifications to our equity positions this quarter were a small increase in our small and mid-cap allocation where price dislocation was occurring. Additionally, we shifted some of our international exposure to Latin America and away from Asia. We believe Latin American equities have attractive valuations and are well positioned to take advantage of continued “near shoring” trends from US businesses. 

One of the financial blogs I follow recently re-posted some of the author’s beliefs about successful investing. *As I reflect on the last three months of market gyrations, I found the longer-term focused advice to be a good reminder. Here are a few key principles. 

1. The timing of buy or sell decisions matters less than your holding period. 

2. Self-control can make you far more money than just about any other trait as an investor. 

3. Being bullish or bearish matters less than progress towards your goals. 

4. A good strategy you can stick with is vastly superior to a great one you can’t stick with. 

5. It is basically impossible to forecast the economy. 

6. It is much easier to explain what just happened than predict what will happen next. 

7. Markets are right most of the time but not all the time. 

8. A long-time horizon is the ultimate equalizer in the markets. 

9. Long-term returns are the only ones that matter but you have to survive the short-term. 

10. It is OK to build wealth slowly. 

We started Ratio Wealth Group with a belief that the above guideposts really are the best way to compound wealth and set the stage for thoughtful planning and deliberate distribution of assets. We spend our days sorting out the noise of the economy and markets, but maintaining a risk-aware, diversified allocation really is the winning recipe. As we approach year-end, we look forward to reviewing retirement plans, savings strategies, estate updates and other personal and/or family goals. 

These reviews are key for us at Ratio because it allows us to stay focused on the true objectives for each of you as we overlay the important planning analysis. With 2023 winding down, we look forward to revisiting and updating your specific planning objectives. 

With gratitude, 

Derek 

*Source: www.awealthofcommonsense.com 

Disclosure

Ratio Wealth Group, LLC (RWG) is a registered investment advisor located in Colorado. RWG and its representatives are in compliance with the current filing requirements imposed upon registered investment advisors by those jurisdictions in which RWG maintains clients. RWG may only transact business in those states in which it is registered, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. RWG’s web site is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its advisory services, together with access to additional investment related information, publications, and links. Accordingly, the publication of RWG’s web site on the Internet should not be construed by any consumer and/or prospective client as RWG’s solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, over the Internet. Any subsequent, direct communication by RWG with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. For information pertaining to the registration status of RWG, please contact the SEC, FINRA or the state securities regulators for those states in which RWG maintains a filing. A copy of RWG’s current written disclosure statement discussing RWG’s business operations, service, and fees is available from RWG upon written request. RWG does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to RWG’s web site or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility therefor. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Therefore, no current or prospective client should assume that future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by RWG) made reference to directly or indirectly by RWG in its web site, or indirectly by a link to an unaffiliated third party web site, will be profitable or equal the corresponding indicated performance level(s). Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will either be suitable or profitable for a client or prospective client’s investment portfolio. Historical performance results for investment indices and/or categories generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deductions of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. Certain portions of RWG’s web site (i.e. newsletters, articles, commentaries, etc.) may contain a discussion of, and/or provide access to, RWG’s (and those of other investment and non-investment professionals) positions and/or recommendations of a specific prior date. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, such discussion may no longer be reflective of current position(s) and/or recommendations(s). Moreover, no client or prospective client should assume that any such discussion serves as the receipt of, or a substitute for, personalized advice from RWG, or form any other investment professional. RWG is neither an attorney nor an accountant, and no portion of the web site content should be interpreted as legal, accounting or tax advice.

To the extent that any client or prospective client utilizes any economic calculator or similar device contained within or linked to RWG’s web site, the client and/or prospective client acknowledges and understands that the information resulting from the use of any such calculator/device, is not, and should not be construed, in any manner whatsoever, as the receipt of, or a substitute for, personalized individual advice from RWG, or from any other investment professional.

Shawn Wallace, CLTC
Managing Director

720.420.4866 Direct
shawn@RatioWealthGroup.com

“The first time I meet with prospective clients I love getting to know them, exchanging life stories and learning about their goals and dreams. The best moment is when they realize that we’re a great fit and that we are the advisors they have been looking for. I like to think my people skills rival my financial skills! At Ratio, I’m proud that everything we do revolves around our client’s plan. Our goal is for them to trust us as their advisor and planning resource for decades to come.“

Shawn has been a dedicated planning agent for the over seven years, focusing on the comprehensive insurance and investment needs of affluent clients throughout the country. He offers expertise in optimization tactics during the accumulation phase, as well as tax efficient distribution strategies for clients. Shawn also brings a unique perspective and industry knowledge to the table as a United Airlines pilot and Boeing 787 instructor.

After graduating from Indiana State with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Aerospace, Shawn flew for the United States Air Force and is a proud veteran of Desert Storm.

Work : Life

Shawn lives in Denver with his wife and two sons and they all love to travel and are avid sports fans. Shawn is also an avid microbrew fan and will happily tell you his favorites. He is also a Board Member of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.

Nancy Kimball
Executive Assistant

720.420.4860 Direct
Nancy@ratiowealthgroup.com

“Helping people find happiness in the little things, moments or even daily miracles brings me joy! I thrive to make sure the Team at Ratio is prepared for all of their clients’ needs in and out of the office. Patience, appreciation, research and knowledge are key to my success at Ratio. I love helping our ratio Team thrive every day.”

Nancy brings a long career in advertising sales where she worked for Blair Television in various cities including New York. She came to Denver where she worked at the NBC News Affiliate, Channel 9. After leaving the Television Industry, Nancy changed career paths to a more administrative supportive role. She worked for mortgage and real estate CEOs and supported various other CEOs as a Consultant. Nancy is well versed in planning, communication and anticipating the needs of the Ratio Team and their clients. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Broadcasting from Colorado State University. She is also a Certified Yoga Instructor.

Work : Life
Outside of Ratio, Nancy enjoys spending time with her husband and cheering her son on during his many sports, especially hockey. Her favorite hobbies are Pilates and playing the piano. She enjoys volunteering wherever she is needed at her son’s school, on her HOA Board in her neighborhood, and serving the homeless in the Denver community.

Becky Neils, CFP®
Senior Financial Planner

720.420.4862
becky@ratiowealthgroup.com

“You come first. Everything I do is meant to help you understand your overall financial picture and help you toward your goals. I want to get to know you and understand what is important to you. Our planning discussions will be all about how to make your individual plan work to get to your goals, whatever they may be. Listening is the key, but so is explaining complex financial concepts in a way that makes things understandable. “

Becky comes from a 24 year career at Charles Schwab as a branch partner, and for most of her tenure as Senior Wealth Advisor charged with portfolio management and all aspects of financial planning. Her passion is helping clients and their families with planning topics that include retirement, estate, college, charitable, long term care, debt management, cash flow, tax and any other topics that may come up in life.  Becky holds the CFP designation and is a member of the FPA of Colorado.  She holds a Masters degree from the University of Colorado.

Work : Life

Becky prioritizes spending time with her husband and daughter. They love hiking, biking and almost anything outdoors. She also loves photography and travel.

Lauren S. Young, CFP® Vice President, Client Advisor

720.420.4873 Direct
lauren@RatioWealthGroup.com

“I’m passionate about helping people determine their financial goals and then working with them to make sure they can achieve them. I enjoy helping our clients understand “financial language” so that they feel confident when making financial decisions. An important role I play is reminding clients of their goals and helping them stick with them. The difference between us and other financial advisors is our focus on getting to know our clients and connecting with them. That’s as important to us as performance results.”

Lauren has earned a Certified Financial Planner™ designation and has been working in Wealth Management industry for nearly 15 years. She has extensive experience in trust administration, estate planning, retirement planning, and education planning. She has a degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and Finance from Gonzaga University.

Lauren also created a Kids and Money workshop and is passionate about empowering teenagers with the knowledge and expertise to create their own financial futures.

Work : Life
Lauren is a sports fanatic and loves to ski, bike, go to the mountains, cheer on the Denver Broncos and Colorado Avalanche and spend time with her husband and two kids.

Josh Freedman, CFA
Chief Operating Officer

720.420.4863 Direct
josh@ratiowealthgroup.com

“After 30 years in the finance industry, I have seen many different investment strategies employed by multiple firms.  I am thrilled to be at Ratio Wealth Group because I believe that the firm’s holistic approach, our investment philosophy, and the services we provide are the best way to ensure our clients’ financial well-being and peace of mind.  It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to work with such talented people – both coworkers and clients.”

Josh has worked in just about every aspect of the asset management business – from trading and securities research to compliance and operations. Before joining Ratio Wealth Group, Josh was Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer for several independent investment advisors, most recently Ballast Equity Management, LLC. He has experience in investment research and portfolio management in both the equity and fixed income markets and began his career in client service and sales and marketing.

Josh holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of San Diego and a Masters in Business Administration, with a specialization in Finance, from the University of Denver. Josh is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute and CFA Society Colorado.

Work : Life
Josh and his wife enjoy traveling and being in the mountains to ski, ride and hike whenever they can. Josh is also a dedicated, if slow, swimmer and runner. His favorite pastime is annoying his grown sons with the worst dad jokes he can find.

Dominique Caraveo
Client Relations Manager

720.420.4867 Direct
dominique@RatioWealthGroup.com

“Money is an incredibly vulnerable subject. At Ratio, money can be discussed without fear of judgement or pressure all within a space that ensures trust and care. As a first-generation college graduate, I have learned what it’s like to not have been provided with the tools to make yourself financially successful until much later in life. At Ratio, financial advice is coupled with education to ensure that each of our clients has the tools and resources to write their own financial story.”

Dominique focuses on client relations management at Ratio Wealth Group. She has 5 years of client service experience helping clients navigate their financial planning needs. Dominique holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts and an M.S. in Marketing both from Regis University.

Work : Life
During her free time, Dominique enjoys playing tennis, pickle ball, cooking and spending time with her family.

Darren Spreeuw, PhD
Portfolio Manager

720.420.4879 Direct
darren@RatioWealthGroup.com

“I am an educator at heart. I love talking with clients about the economic theories that underlie financial markets, and helping to clarify their understanding about how things work. I’m also a musician, and a little known fact about me is that I pick up foreign languages easily – accents and all. I’m proud to work at Ratio because we are a true fiduciary, putting our clients first, while practicing and promoting best ethical practices with kindness, empathy, and respect.”

Darren has approached the capital markets from a myriad of angles over the last 22 years. At Ratio Wealth Group, he focuses on portfolio management, portfolio analytics, planning integration and client relations. He works closely with the entire Ratio team to insure complimentary investment strategies are thoughtfully integrated into tailored financial plans.

As an academic economist, Darren taught graduate level econometrics, finance and economic theory at several universities, and conducted firm-theory research in Eastern Europe as a Fulbright Scholar. In the private sector, Darren has provided thoughtful strategic analysis to a range of firms, from small family offices and RIAs, to big-data firms overseeing portfolios of mortgage-backed securities.

Darren is a Founding Executive Board Member of the Colorado Student Leader’s Institute, an affiliate of The National Conference of Governor Schools. He holds degrees from San Francisco State University (BA Econ) and The American University (PhD Econ).

Work : Life

Outside of the office, you’ll find Darren fixing anything that breaks at one of his many rental properties, cheering on his kids’ soccer teams, skiing, climbing, cycling, and playing beer-league hockey.

Beth Steininger Wraga
Managing Director

720.420.4865 Direct
beth@ratiowealthgroup.com

“I believe that taking a holistic approach to your financial well-being paves the way to a life abundant in success, happiness and meaning. I have a deep background working with financial institutions and a strong desire to serve others with empathy and integrity. This combination gives me an ideal foundation to aid individuals and families in planning and achieving their life goals.”

Beth brings twenty-five years of institutional financial services experience in sales, research, and operations to her role as Managing Director. Prior to Ratio Wealth Group, Beth worked as the Director of Investor Relations and Marketing for two different hedge fund advisors that were focused on the technology, media, and telecom sectors in the public and private markets. Previously, she worked for Goldman Sachs as a Vice President in Institutional Equity Research Sales and in the Global Investment Research Technology Group. She also worked at Paine Webber (now UBS) in Investment Research and started her career in its Management Audit and Controls analyst program. In addition, Beth is a Certified Life Coach – she uses this training and passion to help clients identify core motivations, values, and goals in their wealth management discussion. Beth received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Work : Life

Beth lives in San Francisco with her husband and three sons. She is passionate about travel, theater and cheering on her boys.

Graham C. Gerlach, CFP®, AEP®
Co-Founder, Owner, Partner

720.420.4871
Graham@RatioWealthGroup.com

Graham brings a varied and highly valuable combination of expertise to Ratio Wealth Group, advising on all aspect of our business. Graham is also a Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Inclined Technologies, a SaaS software company focused on driving better long-term outcomes for whole life policyholders.

Graham holds a (BA) from Denison University (Religion and Psychology) and is a member of the Denver Estate Planning Counsel.

Work : Life
Outside the office, you’ll find Graham enjoying American and European Football, cooking outside and fine tuning esoteric knock-knock jokes with his kids.

Derek J. Scarth
Co-Founder, Owner, Managing Partner

720.420.4872 Direct
derek@RatioWealthGroup.com

“I am incredibly grateful to assist families in developing a thoughtful strategy for their specific needs and imparting trusted advice. I truly subscribe to a life in service for others. At Ratio, we take a team approach to caring for our clients. I want individuals and families to know that we take tremendous pride in providing confidence and harmony around estate and financial objectives. We know that assets are only valuable as part of an prearranged mosaic and are truly dedicated to being a dependable resource at every turn.”

Derek’s professional experience began in public/private equity analysis and institutional portfolio management. He is well versed in business development and operational management for both for-profit and not-for profit entities. Prior to co-founding Ratio Wealth Group, Derek was a Portfolio Manager and Managing Director for Inspire Capital Partners. Previously, he was a Partner at Denver Investments LLC, where he served as Co-Portfolio Manager for Large-Cap Growth institutional clients and on the Westcore Large-Cap Growth Fund. In 2003, he assisted the investor relations team of Newmont Mining Corporation (NEM -NYSE) in a public offering capital raise. Derek began his investment career as an Analyst and Assistant Portfolio Manager for Berger Funds, which was acquired by Janus Capital Management in 2002.

Derek received his bachelor’s degree from Regis University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Denver – Daniels College of Business.

Work : Life

When he’s not actively engaged in the Ratio community, you will find Derek spending time in the Colorado mountains with his wife and their three sons. Derek is very proud to give back to his alma mater as the Regis University Board of Trustees Chair. He also is an assistant boys soccer coach and mentor at Regis Jesuit High School.

Disclaimer

No client or potential client should assume that any information presented should be construed as personalized financial planning or investment advice. Personalized financial planning and investment advice can only be rendered after engagement of the firm for services, execution of the required documentation, and receipt of our disclosure documents which we will provide upon request. For more regulatory information regarding Ratio Wealth Group please visit the SEC’s website at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov

Licensing

Investment advisory services offered through Ratio Wealth Group, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Graham Gerlach CA Insurance License #0C37975, State of Domicile, Colorado
Shawn Wallace CA Insurance License #0G59657, State of Domicile, Colorado

Ratio CRD: 6705290