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Managing Wealth: Security and Processes To Keep You Protected

| October 09, 2017
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Managing wealth means more than just investing in well researched stocks, bonds, index funds, and mutual funds. It also means we are doing everything we can to keep your financial security a top priority. 

Before we discuss investments, returns, taxes, or markets, let’s take a moment to explain how Denver Wealth Management protects your personal information. Security has always been a normal part of our business process, but the recent Equifax breach makes it worth highlighting that much more.  Most individuals have their personal information stolen when their identity is transmitted electronically either through an email or when a database is hacked. We take many precautions to minimize the chance of your data being stolen, and even if it is, have additional protections in place to prevent anyone from accessing your account.

Did you know a great way for hackers to access your information is by getting into your computer through your Wi-Fi? Given this, when we access the web via Wi-Fi, we only use a secure WPA2 connection. WPA2 is a security protocol and certification program developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless computer networks.

We also do not save Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on our computer hard-drives. Instead we use a cloud-based system created and managed by LPL Financial called Branchnet that stores all of your PII and account information. To access Branchnet, each computer must have a “digital certificate” that is specific to that advisor. To obtain the digital certificate that allows us to access Branchnet, we first must let LPL Financial verify our need for the certificate, and then they install that unique certificate on our computer.

You may ask, “So, my advisor’s computer has a digital certificate installed that allows the user to access Branchnet, PII, and account information. What happens if my advisor’s lab top gets stolen?”

Great question! First, the thief would need to enter the correct username and password to enter the Branchnet system.  That said, we take precautions to not let our lap top get stolen in the first place. For example, it is our policy to not leave lap tops in the back seat of the car but instead in the trunk or not in the car at all if possible. However, if for some reason our lap tops were stolen, they have Bitlocker and whole disk encryption on them as barriers to entry. In order to start up our lap tops, one must put a flash drive into the USB port. This flash drive has a specific and unique code that unlocks our computers.

In terms of emails, you may have heard us say, “Please don’t send me that information via email unless your email is encrypted.” It is LPL’s policy that any PII being shared through email must be encrypted. This is why we ask that if you send us a statement via email, please allow us to first send you an encrypted email that you can reply to with the statements attached. This process will encrypt your return email and the information contained in it.

Some of you may have received a response like this from us in the past: “We’d be happy to honor your instructions; however, we cannot accept instructions sent via email or orders left on voicemail.” Anytime you’d like to move money in or out of your accounts with us, we need to hear your voice and be able to hold a conversation with you. This is an effort to ensure it is actually you making the request.   As a reminder, checks being deposited into your account should always be made out to “LPL Financial” or “LPL Financial FBO Your Name”. You should never write an investment check directly to an advisor or local firm.

An additional line of defense at Denver Wealth comes in the form of Blair Braden, our compliance officer. Blair reviews all orders for third-party checks, which adds an extra layer of security if there is a fraudulent request. Blair obtains clarification on any third-party checks where he does not recognize the payee as one of our selected investments.  

Finally, should you ever notice any discrepancies in your accounts, you can always call your Denver Wealth representative or LPL directly to discuss any questions or concerns you might have.

 

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.

We follow First Trust’s Chief Economist Brian Wesbury’s commentary about the economy and markets closely. In his recent weekly newsletter, he offered an interesting mental exercise which I have copied in its entirety below:

“Next Monday (October 9th) will be exactly ten years from the stock market peak before the Financial Panic of 2008.

Imagine that Doctor Doom, the perceived ‘best analyst in the business’, told you on that night, when markets peaked, that financial authorities would allow mark-to-market accounting rules to burn the banking system to the ground, with many well-known financial firms failing or being taken over by the government. You knew the unemployment rate was going to soar to 10% and the economy would experience the deepest recession since the 1930s. You also knew the US would soon elect a president that would socialize much more of the health care system, raise top income tax rates, and push the Medicare tax for high income earners up by an additional 3.8%. Finally, you knew that ten years later all of those new taxes and expanded health care policies would still be in place.

Then imagine you knew the federal debt would be more than 100% of GDP, with massive annual deficits predicted as far as the eye could see.

Then, imagine you were allowed one investment choice, a choice you had to stick to for the next ten years, through thick and thin, no reallocation allowed. Put all your investable assets in the S&P 500, a 10-year Treasury Note, gold, oil, housing, or cash. Pick just one of these assets and let your investment ride.

Which asset would you have picked? Be honest! In that environment, with that kind of foresight, right at a stock market peak, it would have been awfully tough to pick stocks.

Assuming no major shift in the next week, the S&P 500 has generated an average annual return (capital gains plus reinvested dividends) of 7.2% per year, essentially doubling in value in ten years.”

The resilience of the US stock market over the long term is in my opinion, a great economic achievement.  

We are 9 months into 2017 and it is has been a year marked by record-low volatility (price fluctuations), strong stock market performance, and an economic boom that is now in its 8th year. Despite the political turmoil that seems to be always ready to boil over, you could almost describe the financial markets as currently stable.

As investment professionals, it is easy to sit back and look at the positive returns we have generated and begin to get complacent. That is not what we are doing at Denver Wealth Management. We are believers in General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.’s statement, “During the time you are at peace, you must be working harder than ever in preparation for future uncertainty.”

We hold a monthly investment committee meeting the first Wednesday of every month, where we review the holdings in our portfolios and discuss our strategy for each investment, the performance of the managers, and the opportunity within the sector. During these meetings we collectively make decisions about whether to buy, sell, or hold our various investments.

Even though 2017 has been good year, we are working harder than ever to help our clients work towards financial confidence.

2 Quick notes!

-- We have moved into our permanent Greenwood Village Headquarters. There will be some light construction over the next 30 days, but you can count on us being here for at least the next 7 years: 5299 DTC Blvd, Suite 1350, Greenwood Village, CO 80111.

-- Taylor Alcazar, our office manager for the past 3 years, gave birth to a baby girl, Adaline Cora Alcazar, in August, and has retired to stay home with her.  We wish Taylor and Ada all the best!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful

Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy can ensure success or protect against loss.

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