1 year ago

Handling the stock market: Alabama financial guru Jeff Roberts doesn’t want you to flinch

Birmingham, Alabama-based financial guru Jeff Roberts, who was recently named one of the top private wealth advisors in the nation by Barron’s®, came on Yellowhammer Radio to lay out the facts so people can decide for themselves.

The full conversation with Mr. Roberts can be heard on the Yellowhammer Radio podcast or in the video above, and a lightly edited transcript of his interview with Yellowhammer’s Andrea Tice and Scott Chambers can be read below.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Podcast on iTunes. Learn more about Jeff Roberts’ private wealth advisory practice at JeffRobertsAndAssociates.com.

Andrea Tice:

Hey, welcome back to Yellowhammer Radio. You’re listening to us on Superstation 101.1 WYDE. Andrea Tice here with Scott Chambers and we’re about to introduce Jeff Roberts he’s the founder of Jeff Roberts & Associates. Jeff’s team consists of seven seasoned advisors and together have a hundred and twenty-five years of financial planning with Ameriprise. Barron’s Magazine has placed that company among the top 1,200 financial advising practices in the country. Not once, Scott, not twice, but six times. So you can tell he’s a local guy who’s doing big things. Jeff’s team specializes in working with affluent clients to help them preserve and grow their wealth. So they are the go-to team in town for customized recommendations in regards to estate planning, retirement planning or asset management. So we are very glad to have Jeff on board to keep us financially sound and growing. Hey, Jeff are you there?

Jeff Roberts:

I am. Good to be back.

Scott Chambers:

Yeah we missed you last week. You were out of town doing some work i take it?

Jeff Roberts:

Yes, I was in Las Vegas attending the Barons Top Team Summit for the weekend. It was very insightful and a good conference.

Andrea Tice:

So is Barron’s Magazine going to come out with another listing like you guys have seen before?

Jeff Roberts:

They are and it’s any day now. It fact it’s normally the first week in February but we’re hearing that it may be the first week in March before they come out with their new list of the top 1200 advisors or so.

Scott Chambers:

Well I have a feeling you’re going to be smack dab in the middle of it again, Jeff.

Jeff Roberts:

That may be the case but listen to get it once it’s like winning the Super Bowl. If you get it twice it’s a validation and any more than that is just unimaginable to me.

Scott Chambers:

Six times, Jeff. That’s amazing.

Andrea Tice:

If it goes to seven that’s going to be really impressive.

Jeff Roberts:

It’s hard for me to imagine. We just want to serve our clients well and if the accolades come that’s even better.

Andrea Tice:

Well you know, Jeff, if you happen to get seven Scott and I will be happy to come down to your office and provide party ambience. You provide the food but we’ll be there to eat it.

Scott Chambers:

You know, Jeff, something interesting while you were out of town and this has been going on for a little while now but now while you’re out of town the market really started hitting just record all-time highs. What the heck can we take away from that?

Jeff Roberts:

It is exciting and it’s good. We love all-time highs and you know i always talk with you guys about themes and topics that hear about during my meetings during the week when we’re sitting down with our clients. It’s interesting because when markets hit all-time highs you would think that everybody’s all excited this is great and high five but actually it’s amazing how fear sets in and people begin to think because the market is hitting an all-time high that means I need to get out and it’s going to be bad. So we’re going to touch on that a little bit today in terms of just some historic numbers and patterns. I’m going to reference a lot of data and percentages and the main thing I gotta tell you is I’m getting it from a lot of sources. They’re good friends at at JP Morgan provides a great deck of the information. Fidelity Investments also gives us some of the stats and I’m going to give you. And then there are simple websites where we can gather historic information like BigCharge.com or DQYDJ or Yahoo Finance all can compile this data. But first, to understand what this stuff is let’s just talk about the Dow just generally because most people follow the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It started back when Charles Dow started his first index in the 1884 but it was until 1896 that the industrial index first came out. It was just 12 stocks at that time that kind of made up the industrials. I’m just curious do you all happen to know, here’s a question, how many stocks comprised the Dow Jones Industrial Average today by chance?

Andrea Tice:

Ok, just so we’re clear, Jeff, stocks indicate the individual stocks represent a company?

Jeff Roberts:

Individual stock represents one company and the Dow Jones is a collection of a measurement of a certain number of stocks. I’ll give you the answer it’s 30.

Scott Chambers:

I was going to go to guess 30.

Andrea Tice:

He was not guessing. He was googling it.

Jeff Roberts:

I should have realized you guys have the laptop there. 30 stocks comprise the Dow and now here’s an interesting one. Keep in mind the Dow has been around a hundred twenty years, can any of you guys guess which company has been on the original list all the way back hundred twenty years?

Andrea Tice:

One hundred and twenty years, oh my gosh. I’ve got to think of a company that’s been around. Can Ford Company be on that? Because that’s been around.

Scott Chambers:

I’m gonna say General Electric.

Jeff Roberts:

There you go bud.

Scott Chambers:

I didn’t google that, Jeff Roberts.

Jeff Roberts:

So yeah that’s the one company that’s been on there the entire time. The list changes from time to time and and reflects today versus years ago when it was maybe more railroads and that sort of thing. Then there’s indexes that are maybe a little bit broader like the S&P 500 index that is a listing of 500 stocks as opposed to just 30 which might be a little bit broader view of what the markets doing. It dates back to 1923 in its original form called the Composite Index and then started with 500 stocks actually in 1957. Alright, all you need to know about the basics. Let’s talk about the US stocks. You know they’re hitting all-time highs, some people are getting nervous and so you know maybe we need to get some perspective on what that actually looks like. There’s an economist, Ken Galbrath back in no gosh he was probably back in his prime back in the fifties and he has a quote that says, “the is the function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” As we begin to pontificate markets and projecting and past performance, who knows where markets are going to go but here’s some perspective. If you look at the Dow which is what most people see when they paying attention to the market the stock market and if we go back 90 years of history and you look at what’s the average performance been of the Dow for the last 90 years. The number from January of 1926 to January 2017 the average returns 9.76 percent roughly. So let’s just round that up and call it 9.8 percent roughly. So you’ve got a machine for 90 years its average 9.8 and people say “yeah but that’s over 90 years, Jeff. That’s not indicative of anything. That’s not relative to us.” Lets do 20 years, so if you go from 1996 to 2017 the average 9.1 on the Dow. And if you go back 10 years from 2016 to 2017 its average is 8.44. So a little bit less but remember we also had during that 10 year period we had the second-worst period of time in a market history which was the great recession in 2008. Y’all remember that?

Scott Chambers:

I can’t forget that one.

Jeff Roberts:

If we go back five years the last five years in markets average 11.8. If you think about this you say, well Jeff, whether we die set 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 80 years it’s gone between roughly eight and a half and 12% so let’s call it to you somewhere around ten percent with the market is historically done when you just look at the averages. You think about a performance number that’s actually pretty good. Year-to-date the market’s up 4.1 percent as of the market today. If you look at what’s happened with the markets since Trump got elected it’s up about twelve percent since election day. We’ve seen strong performance. Here’s the question I would ask right so if you’ve got a machine that’s been cranking out roughly 9.8 call it 10 percent return for the last 90 years on average and at 10 percent your money is doubling about every roughly seven point two years roughly. So if we’ve had this machine it’s cranking out money that doubles every seven-plus years, why isn’t every American wealthy? Why isn’t everyone benefiting from this? Well, the reason that I’ve contended this for years when I do workshops, because I think we as Americans tend to believe in things that don’t exist. Like Elvis is still alive or Bigfoot or something like that but you know we believe that the markets gonna crash and go down forever. It’s gonna go to zero and we make up these scenarios in our heads which cause our behavior related to investing in the markets to be altered. We tend to focus on the negative and what’s TV and the news do? It adds to that so just because markets are hitting all-time highs that doesn’t mean panic, scare and run. and that’s what unfortunately happens with people. They’re coming in my office and they’re scared because the markets are hitting the high and so my statement to people is, this is kind of a broad statement but, markets are pretty much always going to hit all times. Because if you look at that 90-year trend what do markets do? They always go up over time. They have crazy and wild volatility along the way but generally stocks always go up over time so they’re always going to be hitting highs but we tend to focus on those negatives in those short periods of time. Like I’ll give you an example, if you go back to the last 37 years and you look at the swings of the market every single year, one year at a time all the way back to say 1980. The average decline in any year of the stock market, meaning from January to December the amount level of decline the stock market could have had on average all the way back 36 years. The average has been 14.2 percent on the downside in any given year for the last 37 years. So you think about those things and you say, “Jeff, you’re saying that any given year in the last 36 years the stock market has averaged at some point during the year a decline the 14 percent?” Yes. So that means if you’re investing your money in stocks you need to be comfortable with the fact that it could swing in any year 14 percent. Yes, true statement but sometimes people forget that because if we’ve gone for a year or two and we haven’t had a swing down like that and people start comfortable and then all of a sudden they drop 14% in the year or 15% or something like that then people get nervous panic and move to the side. That machine that cranks out that historic return is no longer working when you sit on the sidelines. So to get the averages you have to have the pluses and minuses and so what we’re experiencing now is good market performance but we don’t want to move to the side just because things are doing well. Here’s another statistic that’s kind of interesting, I had a client say, “Yeah but Jeff, my gosh it’s doubled to twenty thousand dollars just in roughly the last six and a half years.” Because the Dow is at 10,000 in July of 2010 and so it went from July of 2010 at 10,000 now to 20,000. That’s about 11% return roughly over that period of time which is a little bit better than the market is averaged for a long period but it’s not crazy high. But what people forget about is the markets overvalued and that’s what their thinking is. Because of that that analogy I just gave, let’s put it into greater perspective. The first time the Dow Jones broke 10,000 for the first time wasn’t July of 2010. The first time it ever broke through was in April of 1999 which was 18 years ago. So it actually doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 today over an 18 year period of time. Which is not nearly a high return. To keep this in perspective, the Dow to 20,000 today is just a double of where the market was in 1999. Does that make sense? My thing that I try to message to clients is this, you know as I mentioned on average we’ve seen historically for 36 years stocks dropped somewhere a year about 14% on average intra year. About every three months historically. If we go back to 1926 stocks dip about 5% on average every three months. Dating back to 1926 every eight months on average they go down 10% and every two and a half years on average, since 1926 stocks dropped 20%. We’ve gone eight years since a drop of that size which is one of the longest stretches. So our message to people is this, don’t panic just because stocks are hitting the high. Be rooted in a well-diversified portfolio but remember that the performance that you get in your investment is a combination of two things, the investment results of the markets that were in plus investor behavior. Investor behavior is the part that we as advisors trying to help clients influence. Make sure they’re not doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Scott Chambers:

Just be in it for the long haul. It’s a long haul thing, no need to panic. This is the thing you’re in for the long haul.

Andrea Tice:

And it sounds to me like, Jeff, you’re providing the fuller context of someone who studies it knows that the stats on the long-haul like a hundred years and can say let’s put it in perspective. Here’s your full spectrum don’t panic.

Jeff Roberts:

That’s correct. We focus very heavily on investor behavior because that’s the part we can control the most.

Scott Chambers:

Jeff Roberts you are an awesome man. Jeff Roberts and Associates, tell people how they can get in touch with you good sir.

Jeff Roberts:

Give us a buzz at 205-313-9150 or JeffRobertandAssociates.com.

Scott Chambers:

Jeff Roberts from Jeff Roberts & Associates we look forward to talking to you again next Wednesday, Jeff.


array(1) {

9 hours ago

Longtime journalist, Tuscaloosa native and Pulitzer Prize winner Les Payne dies

Longtime New York journalist and Tuscaloosa native Les Payne has died at age 76.

Payne’s family confirmed his death to Newsday, where he worked for nearly four decades, rising through the ranks from reporter to associate managing editor. The newspaper reports Tuesday that Payne died unexpectedly Monday night at his home in Harlem.


Newsday Editor Deborah Henley says Payne established a standard of journalistic excellence that has been “a beacon for all who have come after him.”

Payne oversaw foreign and national coverage, was an editor of New York Newsday and wrote a column. He was part of a Newsday reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for a series titled “The Heroin Trail.”

He also was a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

(Image: Darlene Lewis/Vimeo)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

9 hours ago

Peggy Sutton is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

Peggy Sutton did not start out wanting to create a powerhouse food business. She just wanted to eat like her grandparents did.

Sutton, a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, planted grains at her home in Fitzpatrick about 15 years ago and waited for them to sprout. Before the Industrial Revolution, most people made flour from spouted grains, not from crops harvested with a combine.

Sutton soaked the grains in mason jars in 2005, dried them and then ground them into flour with a small mill in her home.

“I was blown away by the taste,” she told Kitchn.com in 2015. “It was so good, and I was hooked. And to me, that’s actually the most important thing.”


The real benefit, the secret to Sutton’s commercial success, were the health features. She told Kitchn.com that flour from sprouted grains preserves vitamins and minerals that are eliminated in modern farming. Those nutrients produce naturally fortified flour.

At first, Sutton tried to spread the gospel of sprouted grains, but friends and relatives asked Sutton if she could just make the grains for them. She did, and To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. was born, according to the company’s website. More than a decade later, Sutton’s idea has grown into a business that produces more than 3.6 million organic whole-grain sprouted flour a year and is the largest supplier of organic sprouted flours in the world.

The production moved from her home kitchen to a commercial kitchen inside a barn in 2006 and four years later moved up to a 7,200-square-foot facility. The company added a second facility in 2013 and expanded again in 2015. To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. employs more than 30 people and ships grains, flours, legumes, seeds, nuts and other snacks to 14 different countries.

Sutton touts the not-too-subtle differences between her flour and the products on sale at the local supermarket.

“It’s the difference between eating a tomato and a potato,” she told Alabama Power’s Alabama NewsCenter last year. “Sprouted flour tastes better, is easier to digest, has more enzymes and is just more nutritious than regular flour.”

Sutton did not just luck into the business. She had spent three decades working in marketing and management positions in Montgomery, Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia. She returned home to Fitzpatrick, a rural community south of Montgomery, to take a job as director of the Alabama Hospice Organization.

Then, the flour business started to take off. Orders grew so fast that she decided to stop making baked goods and concentrate full time on producing flours. It was a call from Whole Foods that kicked the business to a different level. The chain grocery store wanted 10,000 pounds.

“At that time, we were only making about 1,000 pounds a week, but I knew we could do it,” she told Alabama NewsCenter. “Unfortunately, we live at the end of a dirt road, and the trucks couldn’t get in to pick up all that flour. So we had to expand.”

Sutton’s business even has landed her picture on the back of Kashi cereal boxes. She told This is Alabama last year that Kellogg’s, which makes the organic cereal, contacted her in 2014 and decided to use her image after hearing her company’s homegrown story and coming away impressed with the quality of the grain.

“I told my husband, it’s not the front of the Wheaties box, but I’m not complaining!” Sutton told the website.

Sutton will be honored with Gov. Kay Ivey in an awards event March 29 in Birmingham. The Yellowhammer Women of Impact event will honor 20 women making an impact in Alabama and will benefit Big Oak Ranch. Details and registration may be found here.

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

BCA endorsement is a real head-scratcher

Campaign season is officially upon us.  Yard signs are popping up at every street corner and on trees along our roadways, the monthly FCPA reports showing candidate fundraising activity are on full display and endorsements are being rolled out by groups across the state.  While there has been an age old debate about the true value of endorsements, especially from elected officials, there is no question that an endorsement from the likes of ALFA, the Business Council of Alabama, the Realtors Association, just to name a few, can prove to be a major shot in the arm for a candidate seeking statewide office in Alabama.


Aside from the very large campaign checks they can dole out at a moment’s notice, these groups have a strong network of very politically active members across the state who ban together to turnout the vote for candidates who align with their interests.  The endorsements, on many levels, can provide a little-known candidate instant “street cred” and very quickly propel their candidacy to new heights.  So, it is no mystery as to why potential candidates can spend more than a year ahead of an election cycle traveling to local ALFA meetings and visiting with key business leaders to lay the groundwork for just the opportunity to win a coveted endorsement.  Quite simply, being shunned by one of these groups may not break one’s campaign but receiving their blessing can certainly make one’s campaign.

The Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee, or ACJRC to the Montgomery insiders, was established in the 1990s by a wide range of business associations banding together to recruit and finance conservative judicial candidates to put an end to the “tort hell” environment created over the years by the trial lawyers that had embedded itself inside of the Alabama Court System.  The effort, conducted by none other than famed political consultant Karl Rove, was wildly successful and, over time, turned the state’s court system from one of the least business-friendly in the country into one of the most.  This feat was not easy and the ACJRC continues to work to build a wall around the court system to protect it from anti-business forces.

So, when the Business Council of Alabama made the decision to endorse Mobile County Circuit Judge Sarah Stewart in the race for Supreme Court, to say the other business associations in Montgomery were stunned would be an understatement.  It could be likened to Tua Tagovailoa shedding his Alabama jersey in the National Championship game, walking to the Georgia sideline and lining up at quarterback for them on the next series.  Those who had worked so hard to preserve the coalition were angered because they fully understand the aforementioned benefits that come with a major endorsement.

According to the ACJRC, one should look no further than a case involving South Alabama Brick to understand that Stewart’s judicial record is far from business-friendly.  Her ruling, eventually overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court, would have required business and property owners to warn independent contractors along with their employees of any potential hazards, no matter how large or small, they could encounter while on the job site even if the contractor had more expertise regarding the issue.  Furthermore, the burden of making sure the contractor’s employees were operating in a safe manner would have been unduly placed on the business owner regardless of whether or not the contractor had implemented his or her own operational safety standards.

However, the specifics of this particular endorsement aside, the more important issue may be the fracturing of the coalition on this race and the Business Council’s unwillingness to explain the endorsement to us and others. The civil justice arm of the business community is now pitted against what used to be its single strongest member. These groups have held the line and worked arm in arm for years. The fact that the Business Council would change jerseys on this one is truly a headscratcher.

The Yellowhammer Multimedia Executive Board is comprised of the owners of the company.

(Image — Yellowhammer News Graphic)

10 hours ago

Auburn takes part in urban tree canopy study

Auburn will take part in an urban tree canopy study.

The Opelika-Auburn News reports the city of Auburn and the Green Infrastructure Center entered an agreement to evaluate the canopy, which is layered with leaves, branches and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above. The study looks to improve the planning of any future reforestation efforts.


Recommendations for tree removal will focus on elimination of exotic invasive trees to reduce over-competition, increase diversity and increase forest health.

The Green Infrastructure Center is a non-profit organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The organization will use satellite imagery to map the land cover of Auburn.

“The study will also help create healthier communities by realizing the many benefits that trees provide other than just clean air and shade,” said Karen Firehock, executive director of Green Infrastructure Center.

Firehock said Auburn is one of 11 cities chosen for the study. Other cities include Charleston, South Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida, Norcross, Georgia, and Lynchburg, Virginia.

The Alabama Forestry Commission is administering a grant to fund the project.

“We’ve been trying to work with the Alabama Forestry Commission for the last couple of years on a variety of projects focusing on green infrastructure,” said Daniel Ballard, watershed division manager for the city of Auburn’s water resource management team. “Trees are the original green infrastructure. They have a few different programs that they manage and one of these being this federal grant that they administer that focuses on urban forests for the specific purpose of improving storm water management.”

Ballard said Auburn was a good fit, because of the city’s continuous growth. He said the city’s impaired watersheds, which are water quality areas of concern, will be part of the study and are always a priority for the city.

“There are areas within the Parkerson Mill Creek watershed, the Saugahatchee Creek watershed, or the Moores Mill Creek watershed that are all priorities for our department,” he said.

Ballard said Auburn was already pursuing a green infrastructure master plan, which will integrate parks and natural areas, greenways, bike paths, sidewalks and habitat corridors.

“This project filled in a gap in that master planning process,” Ballard said. “Although we’re not evaluating urban tree canopy in our green infrastructure master plan, we are in that process looking holistically at the way we manage storm water and not just trees.”

(Image: Auburn University)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

10 hours ago

Alabama Sheriff’s Association director: Jail food allowance reform ‘should have been done 50 years ago’

Reforming what county sheriffs do with unspent jail food allowances should have been accomplished a long time ago, Robert Timmons, Executive Director of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association, told Yellowhammer News on Tuesday.

“It should have been done 50 years ago,” Timmons said. “It’s an antiquated law.”


Timmons pointed to a 2009 article in the Montgomery Advertiser, which reported on some of the controversy around the jail food allowance issue. He went back even further to demonstrate how long this conversation has been going on, pointing to a special report published in 1919 about how the Jefferson County Sheriff was managing such allowances.

Several counties have taken the initiative, not waiting for the legislature to make broad and binding reforms.

Randolph County requires the sheriff to deposit unspent fund into a surplus account. In Russell County, the sheriff is still responsible for feeding prisoners but the county buys the groceries and any excess money goes into the general surplus fund.

Until change comes to all counties, though, Timmons defends the sheriff’s prerogative to keep unspent allowances because it is allowed by law.

“Everything that the Alabama sheriff does has to be administered by an act of legislature. He cannot receive money, he cannot spend money, he cannot create policies outside of his procedure manual.”

As for the quality of inmate food, Timmons challenged the charge that inmates aren’t well-fed.

“Everybody uses day old bread,” he said. “You probably have day old bread at your house right now. They’re eating better than they do on the outside. Most of the inmates will tell you that.”

(Image: National Sheriff’s Association/Facebook)