2016

What if conflict or persecution forced your family to flee? This quarter, our team went through a powerful exercise at Friends of Refugees in Clarkston, GA. Their program, “A Walk in my Shoes,” helps individuals understand the experience of entering a country as a refugee. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home because of persecution or conflict. We were invited to explore the heart and plight of refugees and left with a much deeper understanding of their daily routine, encounters, and feelings.

Friends of Refugees seeks to “empower refugees through opportunities that provide for their well-being, education, and employment.” Our team donated toys for their holiday store, where refugees can buy gifts for their children. Friends of Refugees understands the importance of maintaining dignity and offers these gifts at a reduced rate in an effort to empower the refugees and to restore confidence through their purchases.

Our team walked away touched and inspired by their stories. To learn more about volunteer opportunities or find ways to get involved, please visit their website www.friendsofrefugees.com.

friends-of-refugees

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Scary Facts Surrounding DIY Retirement Plans

When Hurricane Matthew first appeared on radar screens, it wasn’t clear where it would make landfall or the degree of damage it might cause. But meteorologists could see, in broad terms, which areas would need to prepare.

Retirement planning follows a similar arc. When people are younger—in their 20’s or 30’s, and just beginning to establish their careers—“retirement” is a massive, ill-defined eventuality. As it comes closer into view, it’s much easier to attach concrete numbers to one’s plan.

For a lot of families, unfortunately, this has become a de facto retirement plan: set some money aside; don’t worry about specific goals until retirement is clearly within view. In fact, a frightening 44 percent of today’s pre-retirees do not engage a financial planning professional when preparing a retirement plan. Of those, 50 percent say they can do it “just as well” on their own [i]. What are they overlooking?

Life.

Most of us tend to think in very linear terms. From right now until age 70, we see a straight line. And we fail to account for an endless list of what if’s. For example, a lot of DIY retirement plans are based on a mortality age that isn’t realistic. People are shortchanging themselves on how long they’ll live, and how inflation will eat into their buying power over time.

Tax liability is another good example. If you don’t understand distribution requirements after age 70 ½ and related tax obligations, your DIY plan could be in for a shock. Also your spouse’s pension: do you have a contingency plan for if you lose all or a portion of that income? Working with a wealth management professional is the easiest way to recognize these pitfalls early on, and run different projections on your plan—illustrating the effect of X, Y, or Z event.

For high-net-worth families, especially, there are myriad moving parts to consider beyond the present day. Estate planning, charitable planning, tax planning: one way or another, these facets may be covered by a family CPA or an attorney, but often no one is working to coordinate all the pieces. In the absence of a “personal CFO” or financial advisory services, this is akin to a DIY approach—one that overlooks changing tax laws, estate tax laws, market shifts, and other opportunities that change over time.

Here’s another scary fact: Americans spend more time planning for vacation than for retirement [i], and not just because retirement seems so far away… I suspect that younger generations (Generation X, and even some Baby Boomers) misread the security they see in their parents’ situations. They look at seniors living comfortably, not dependent on personal savings, and they ignore the value of their parents’ pension plans—perhaps not realizing what retirement will look like now that those benefit plans are quickly disappearing.

Which brings me to one final, scary fact: 26 percent of currently retired Baby Boomers report feeling “surprised” by retirement expenses—healthcare and travel, in particular [i]. This speaks to the need for frequent plan review and revision. A retirement plan should be a living document. But DIY retirement planners are less likely to reflect on what’s happening in their lives (new grandchildren, new hobbies, new health conditions), and update their plans annually. Without reality checks, even a well-drafted upfront plan can fall apart in the long run.

I’ve always liked the quote that reads, “A goal without a plan is a wish.” Whether you’re just getting started in your career, or your life has changed somewhat since you first mapped out a retirement plan (divorce, career change, kids’ college plans), it makes sense to sit down with a professional and rerun your numbers.

Authored By:

4

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other matters that affect you or your business.

[i] https://www.ameriprise.com/retirement/insights/ameriprise-research-studies/pay-yourself-in-retirement/

[i] http://www.businessinsider.com/americans-plan-vacations-over-retirement-2014-6

[i] http://www.soa.org/Files/Research/Projects/research-2013-retirement-survey.pdf

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Welcome to the Gratus Capital Quarterly Market Outlook.

market-outlookStarting in Q4 of 2016, we adopted a new format for our Quarterly Market Outlook. We hope you find that this refresh makes our insights more well-balanced, engaging, and accessible.  

You asked… our experts answered. Each quarter, our investment experts—Marc Heilweil, Senior Portfolio Manager, and Todd Jones, Director of Investments—weigh in on the current financial environment. They lend context to common areas of interest or concern, and hopefully spark new conversations between you and your Gratus advisor. Here’s what Marc and Todd are talking about this month:

Relative to other market environments you have experienced over your 30+ year career, how would you characterize where we are currently in the US?

MH: We are in unknown territory right now. I’ve been a student of market history for many years, and this is perhaps the first time wherein history offers very little to inform us about what to expect. Therefore, we all need to be humble in the current environment. Central banks are suppressing interest rates by buying up fixed-income instruments (government bonds, etc.) throughout the major economies of the world. As a result, asset prices are higher than they normally would be. I think the overarching message is to take any major forecast with a grain of salt, and remain cautiously optimistic with individual investment selections.

It seems as if the markets approve of the recent OPEC plan to curtail production.  What are your thoughts?

TJ: This is a topic that’s been in the news quite a bit. It’s certainly on the minds of our clients and investors. To us, the whole energy question is not necessarily impactful to how we manage accounts (because we work on a much longer-term basis than this question might suggest). But as far as putting credence into the OPEC decision, I would just remind people we’re talking about a loose association of countries that don’t like each other very much. Expecting them to do what they say they’ll do is a large ask. Right now these are just words, not actions; and historically you can’t trust what all OPEC members say. Short term, people should be skeptical of the bottom line.

What types of opportunities are you finding in international markets versus domestic?  Do you have a preference at this point in time?

MH: If I had to make a generalization, most markets—adjusting for their riskiness—are somewhat more attractive than U.S. markets. Part of the reason for that is because (except for China, which never saw a big dip) the U.S. recovery has been much faster in the wake of the Great Recession. The dollar has also been quite strong, so that has attracted more investments from abroad rather than the reverse: U.S. investors going to international markets. People would rather have dollar-denominated investments.

At the moment, Switzerland is a particularly attractive market. There are some extraordinarily well-run, multinational corporations in that country, and there’s been an effort made by Swiss National Bank to keep the currency from becoming too strong. Somewhat more speculatively, India seems to have enormous potential. If policies continue to address India’s financial reforms, I think the Indian market will be quite profitable over the next decade. 

What is the outlook for interest rates over the next 12 to 18 months? 

TJ: Again, this is a bit of a challenge to answer, but the discussion is critical to understanding forward-return projections for a number of different asset classes—specifically equity or fixed income. Barring periodic spikes higher in global rates, it’s been our belief—at least over the past five years—that the long-term trajectory of interest rates remains firmly downward. That may be a non-consensus view, but there are definitely a number of factors keeping rates low for the time being:

  • Declining worker productivity—Workers are becoming less productive, so less income is being generated.
  • Demographics—The world is getting older. Seniors require higher levels of fixed-income investments. Going forward there will be buying pressure from older cohorts, globally.
  • Tech improvements leading to job disintermediation—Increasingly, robots can do the routine jobs that people used to do, putting deflationary pressure on wages.
  • Debt—In and of itself, debt is deflationary. It’s pulling demand forward, and at some point you have to pay back your debts.

What could send rates higher, on a more predictable trajectory? Following the next recession, once all the excess debt gets worked out, we may see a more sustained trend upward.

What do you see as the biggest risk to global financial markets currently?

MH: The biggest risk comes from central bank policies. The markets have been somewhat complacent ever since the 2008 financial crisis, in assuming central banks can bail financial markets out. That has been true, but it won’t always be true. At some point, the markets will become more powerful than banks, which have been weakened in their ability to react. The rekindling of inflation is another factor. From a macro point of view, I’ll be keeping my eye on that.

Why are investors turning to private real estate investments?  What is the opportunity in private investments versus public right now?

TJ: Private investments are a big focus for us at Gratus these days. Many markets—equity and fixed-income, for example—are elevated in valuation relative to historic norms. Bond yields are a lot lower than where we started the recovery; the S&P is about 100 percent higher than where it started in 2009. And forward returns, based on valuation metrics, aren’t nearly as good as they were even a couple of years ago.

All told, returns are getting harder to make in public markets. That leads us to the private investments, which certainly has its risks and unique considerations, but also far higher starting return potential because of the large illiquidity premium—i.e. the amount you’re compensated for taking on illiquidity risk.

We’ve hired a talented and experienced real estate analyst to identify opportunities and create fund strategies in this arena. These “less traveled” roads are a natural place to look, as we work to help clients earn an acceptable rate of return, in an effort to achieve their financial goals.

Where can people follow up with you on these issues and any related questions?

TJ: I gladly welcome any follow-up questions or questions for next month’s commentary. Send them to tjones@gratuscapital.com.

mark-heilweil

 

Marc Heilweil, Senior Portfolio Manager
mheilweil@gratuscapital.com

 

todd-jones

 

Todd Jones,  Director of Investments
tjones@gratuscapital.com

 

Gratus Capital is an SEC registered investment advisor.  Registration with the SEC does not imply any level of skill or training. Our ADV documents are available upon request.  The opinions expressed are as of October 28, 2016, and may change as economic conditions vary. The information provided is not intended to be relied upon as specific investment advice and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities.  As with any investments, past performance is not a guarantee of future results. In illiquid alternative investments, returns will be reduced by investment management fees and fund expenses. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will achieve its objectives, generate profits or avoid losses.

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We are pleased to announce that Patrick Nolan has joined our firm as a Real Estate Analyst. Patrick’s primary role encompasses sourcing, oversight, and due diligence of the private investment offerings at Gratus Capital. He is a contributing member to the Gratus Capital Illiquid Investment Committee, which accepts or rejects investment opportunities for the private investments platform. In addition, Patrick works closely with our Director of Investments and lends support on various investment-related projects.

Prior to joining Gratus Capital, Patrick was an investment associate for a multi-family value-add real estate operator focusing on purchasing and improving apartment communities in Atlanta and the Midwest. Before that, he spent five years in a business development role for a timberland private equity registered investment advisor. Patrick began his career as a water resources engineer in San Diego, California, where he earned his Professional Engineering license.

Patrick received his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt University and his MBA from the University of Georgia. He holds the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation and is a member of the CAIA Association’s Atlanta chapter.

Please join us in welcoming Patrick to the Gratus Team.

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Your Family’s Investment Strategy: Why It’s Time to Take Stock

Feeling less than confident about your family’s investment strategy?  Trying to help adult children make the most of their portfolios?

You’re not alone—especially if your kids were born during the 1980’s or 1990’s. Recent data shows many Americans are still a little market leery, almost a decade removed from the 2008 downturn. Specifically, according to surveys from Bankrate.com and Capital One/ShareBuilder, we know:

  • 93% of Millennials express both a distrust of the markets and a lack of investing knowledge.
  • 39% of Americans ages 18-29 list “cash” as their preferred method of investing, when it comes to money they won’t touch for 10 years. 

If you recognize these attitudes in your children or your grandchildren, the following Q&A offers a helpful primer. Investment strategist and portfolio manager Marc Heilweil (MH) explains why the stock market remains a very sound place for the preservation and growth of capital—and indeed why it may become the only reliable way for the next generation to build wealth over time. Share his insights with your family members.

In simple terms, why should people invest?

MH: Major U.S. traded companies grow their profits by an average of  7% per year. If you’re an investor, you’re going to participate in that growth.

Do you think a sound investment strategy is as important today as it was for past generations?

MH: If anything, it’s more important. French economist Thomas Piketty published a book in 2014 titled, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. His thesis is basically that returns on invested capital grow faster than wage growth. So if you want to get ahead and stay ahead that’s why you invest.

How do you advise clients who want to employ an active trading strategy for some portion of their portfolio?

MH: I ask them to do that on their own. It’s hard enough to be a good investor. To be a good trader is an entirely different ball game. Except for maybe a few savvy individuals, who are very close to the market and have access to sophisticated tools, people will typically run into large downdrafts that effectively eliminate most successes over time.

What are the fundamentals of a good investment strategy?

MH: Being a good investor means starting off with the three R’s:

  1. Return on Invested Capital
  2. Retention Rate
  3. Return on Equity

Return on invested capital (or assets) is the net income of a corporation divided by total assets. Retention rate is an interesting part of today’s market because this is how much profit a company returns after stock buy-backs and after dividends. Overall, companies aren’t retaining an awful lot of their profits, and therefore investors should be concerned about how prospective opportunities will grow their business in the long term. Return on equity is the shareholder’s return on the stock value of the company. This is the least important of the three because it can be affected by many variables and sometimes ignores key features of the company in question.

Beyond the three R’s, investors should dig into the business itself to see if the metrics are sustainable over time. Is senior management capable? Is the company culture healthy and thriving? Do leaders have shareholders’ long-term best interests at heart? Some companies/industries are inherently unyielding and do not deliver good opportunities. Others are exceptional organizations that can reliably produce good returns.

Who has time to do all this research?

MH: Clients can contribute to the process if they have a good head for business. But mostly this is the value that investment managers bring to the table—their experience, judgment, and familiarity with what’s out there.

When taking a long-term approach, how often should individuals revisit their investments and earnings reports?

MH: You’re not looking at immediate results of investments. So if your advisor tends to recommend companies that are undervalued or out of favor, you may not see returns right away. Returns get better down the road. Investing requires patience. At the same time, you’re constantly evaluating what you own and seeing if it meets your expectations.

Should a person’s investment strategy change as they age, or as different milestones come into view?

MH: The notion that your investment goals change as you get older is somewhat overstated. A good investment is always a good investment—one that has a reasonable margin of safety. Any money you’re investing should have a long-term horizon. If you need money in the short term, don’t invest.

When choosing an investment manager, what kind of homework should investors be doing?

MH: When evaluating an investment advisor, be aware of how he or she has done over a bull market cycle and a bear market cycle.  Some may preserve capital a lot better in bear markets.  In our case for example, we also manage mutual funds, so that aspect of our performance (Marathon Value Portfolio) is a matter of public record.  You can also conduct research on a firm and the individuals in the firm by visiting these sites:   http://brokercheck.finra.org/ and https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.

Any final words of advice?

MH: It’s been said that a “price” is what you pay, and “value” is what you get. This is an important perspective that every investor needs to adopt. Don’t confuse a rising price with a good investment. You need to understand the value of what you own.

Do you have questions about your portfolio or investment strategy? Don’t hesitate to contact the Gratus Capital team!

Disclosures:
Blog may include forward-looking statements.  All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements (including words such as “believe,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “may,” “will,” “should,” and “expect”).  Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.  Various factors could cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements.

Any information provided by Gratus regarding historical market performance is for illustrative and education purposes only.  Clients or prospective clients should not assume that their performance will equal or exceed historical market results and/or averages.

Past performance is not indicative of any specific investment or future results.  Views regarding the economy, securities markets or other specialized areas, like all predictors of future events, cannot be guaranteed to be accurate and may result in economic loss to the investor.

The material listed is current as of the date noted, and is for informational purposes only, and does not contend to address the financial objectives, situation, or specific needs of any individual investor. Any information is for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to serve as investment advice since the availability and effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon your individual facts and circumstances. Results will vary, and no suggestion is made about how any specific solution or strategy performed in reality.

Gratus Capital LLC, the investment advisor to the Marathon Value Portfolio Fund, is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

Ticker symbol: MVPFX.

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Marathon Value Portfolio Fund.  This and other important information about the Fund is contained in the prospectus, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-788-6086.  The prospectus should be read carefully before investing.  The Marathon Value Portfolio Fund is distributed by Northern Lights Distributors, LLC member FINRA/SIPC.  Gratus Capital, LLC is not affiliated with Northern Lights Distributors, LLC.

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Even for affluent families and diligent savers, modern retirement presents some harsh realities. Surprisingly, an estimated 13 percent of Americans in the country’s wealthiest quartile are in danger of churning through their savings within 20 years of retirement*.

How well will your plan hold up to the twists and turns that life presents? Are your revisiting your plan and revising key components when necessary?

Download our guide to find out.

This guide incorporates the SMART approach to goal setting, helping individuals and families avoid common missteps en route to retirement.

Click here to get your complimentary eBook.

 

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Volunteering not only strengthens our team, it strengthens the community we serve. Our team spent the morning at Open Hand, a nonprofit organization that offers home delivered meals and nutrition education as a means to “reinforce the connection between informed food choices and improved quality of life.” We broke out the hair nets, aprons, and gloves to prepare 1,820 pounds of food and pack 1,912 meals for distribution to individuals, Health Clinics, Senior Homes, and Special Needs Housing in the Atlanta area.

Open Hand packs and delivers over 5,000 meals every day and greatly depends on the work of their volunteers. Their dedicated staff and vibrant kitchen facility make it a unique and rewarding experience for everyone. To learn more about their volunteer opportunities or find ways to get involved, please visit their website www.projectopenhand.org

group-packing

 

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Back in February 2013, we published a market update piece with the same title as the one listed above.  In the spirit of transparency and holding ourselves accountable, we thought we’d revisit the concepts of the original publication, note where we were correct/incorrect, and provide some up-to-date thoughts on where we currently sit in the financial markets as of August 11, 2016.  Below, we’ve taken the table from that original publication and added new information highlighted in light blue.

S&P 500 Then and Now

I’ll now outline two key concepts from the original publication to see if they remain legitimate reasons today.

(1)    February 2013:  The S&P 500 price/earnings (or P/E) ratio was 14.12 which represented a 1.37 point discount to the average P/E ratio of 15.49.  On this metric, the S&P 500 was not expensive. 

It appears we got this assertion correct as investors are now willing to pay 18 times S&P 500 earnings versus 14 times back in 2013.  What does an elevated P/E ratio indicate in today’s environment?  I have spent a decent amount of time thinking about why investors in aggregate would be willing to pay more for a stream of earnings in 2016 versus 2013 and I’ve come to the following conclusions.

The dominance of passive equity index flows versus active equity flows.  As you’ll note from the chart below, the Investment Company Institute (ICI) estimates that since 2007, ~$800bln has flowed out of active domestic equity funds and over $1.2tln has flowed into passive indices.  This titanic migration in investment approach needs to be considered.  Some logical outcomes are as follows:

a)  Indices (outside of rebalancing activity) are supposed to buy/sell a certain portfolio of securities on a daily basis regardless of what’s going on around them.  This is problematic in my mind because the purchase of the underlying companies is done without regard to valuation.  An index is purchasing Netflix at 95x earnings irrespective of whether the investor would want to actually invest in such a highly-valued company.

b)  Flows into passive, market capitalization-weighted indices lend themselves to momentum on both the upside and downside.  We are currently in an “upside” momentum period for equity indices leading to additional index buying pressure.  The largest weighted companies, by definition, will get even larger as capital inflows are matched to companies with the highest weight.

Index domestic equity mutual funds

New investor categories that didn’t exist at any point in the recent past.  Another price-insensitive buyer that has emerged in recent years have been global central banks.  Starting with the Bank of Japan and spreading into select European central banks, these entities are increasingly the marginal buyer of global equities.  These asset purchase programs are highly controversial and problematic. In our opinion, these central bank purchases interject a potential issue with corporate governance in that these entities are quasi-governmental organizations investing in public equity and fixed income.  For example, the Bank of Japan (via its ETF purchase program) is a top five holder in 81 Japanese companies.  Even more perplexing is that the Swiss Central Bank owns $1.7bln worth in Apple stock!  For what reason?  These examples highlight the “new” investors that have entered the equity market in recent years.

Pension and Insurance asset/liability matching.  Finally, one investment cohort that could be nearing a tipping point, as far as equity allocations are concerned, would be global pensions and insurance companies.  This is the segment we are most concerned with as losses and shortfalls in these capital pools have the potential to impact a wide swath of global taxpayers (pension plans) and investors (insurance companies).  As you may be aware, insurance/pension schemes were set up to take in payments (premiums) today in exchange for payments in the future.  Because many of the liabilities are long dated, these investors have typically purchased long term bonds to “match” the liability.  These schemes also depend on a certain rate of return to help them earn these future payments.  With ~$13.4tln of global bonds carrying negative yields (1) adequate return in the bond market is not available to these investors and (2) expected rates of return are going down, meaning these schemes have to save more for the same long term payment stream!

(2)    February 2013:  Investor sentiment (as measured by the American Association of Individual Investors or AAII) is moving to a normalized range.  Excessive optimism has shown a strong correlation with market tops.  

AAII Bullish Sentiment 2009-2016

It looks like we were correct on this assertion as well in that bull markets are born in agony and die in euphoria.  As the chart above indicates, we are nowhere near the euphoric levels in sentiment to indicate market froth (either in February of 2013 or August of 2016), and among surveyed individual investors, a decent amount of skepticism in the S&P 500 rally still remains.

Finally, we’d like to propose an indicator that was not listed in the original publication but is one in which we are increasingly interested.  That is the junk bond market yield as it relates to the US Treasury bond market yield.  This is known as the high yield credit spread.  Generally speaking, as high yield credit spreads are rising, there is an indication of  increasing anxiety in the credit markets.  Looking at the chart below, you will note that increasing credit spreads have (almost) always preceded a top in equity markets.

FRED

As long as there is healthy skepticism of the rally, markets should continue to grind higher barring an exogenous event.

In all, we’ve indicated some reasons why the US equity market can move higher from here.  As value investors some of the reasons listed aren’t the best reasons, but they are legitimate none-the-less.  In other words, we are seeing the investment environment for what it is, not how we would like it to be.  New highs in equity indices always draw scrutiny (especially from the financial news media) but they are nothing more than a point in time and number.  With credit spreads improving, commodities stabilizing, investor sentiment neutral, and the US economy growing we believe the US equity markets can continue to grind higher from here.

Thank you for the confidence you have placed in our firm.

Todd Jones, CAIA
Director of Investments

Important Disclosures and Definitions:

The mention of certain stocks or opinions in this communication are not intended as investment recommendations to any investor.  This market update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for investment decisions.  You should seek the advice of an investment professional.  Historical performance is not a guarantee for future performance or results and loss of principal may occur.

The S&P 500 is the broadest and most widely recognized U.S. equity index.  Inclusion of index information is not intended to suggest that its performance is equivalent or similar to that of the historical investments whose returns are presented or that investment with our firm is an absolute alternative to investments in the index (if such investment were possible). Investors should be aware that the referenced benchmark funds may have a different composition, volatility, risk, investment philosophy, holding times, and/or other investment-related factors that may affect the benchmark funds’ ultimate performance results. Therefore, an investor’s individual results may vary significantly from the benchmark’s performance.

AAII Bullish Sentiment  – The sentiment survey measures the percentage of individual investors who are bullish, bearish, and neutral on the stock market short term; individuals are polled from the AAII Web site on a weekly basis. Only one vote per member is accepted in each weekly voting period.

The BofA Merrill Lynch Option-Adjusted Spreads (OASs) are the calculated spreads between a computed OAS index of all bonds in a given rating category and a spot Treasury curve.

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Atlanta, GA—August, 12, 2016—Gratus Capital, one of the Southeast’s premier wealth management firms, recently earned a spot on the Forbes Top 100 Wealth Advisors list, published this month. Specifically, Gratus Capital was ranked 59th out of 100 top-performing peers. This selection was made from a pool of over 11,000 nominations received, and approximately 4,000 candidates invited to complete the Forbes survey.

“As a firm, we are honored and gratified to have been included,” said McLarty.  “It’s a testament to the value of our Gratus mission—providing exceptional wealth management that’s high-touch and thoroughly personalized. The Forbes results are proof positive we’re delivering on that mission.”

Gratus’ rank was determined by a detailed methodology involving qualitative and quantitative data. In terms of quality of practice, Forbes’ algorithm evaluated client retention figures, industry experience, compliance records, and firm nominations. On the quantitative side, analysts weighed factors like assets under management and the amount of revenue advisors generated for their firms.

“This mention is another big win to add to a growing list,” said McLarty, citing Gratus’ recent awards as one of the Top 10 Georgia Financial Advisors and among the Largest Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisory Firms in the U.S.

“But recognition isn’t what drives us. Ultimately it’s about our clients’ financial security, retirement plans, and legacy goals. Hearing families say they feel confident and prepared is, without question, the highest form of praise.”

The full list of Top 100 Wealth Advisors will be featured in the August 23, 2016 print issue of Forbes magazine.

About Gratus Capital
Gratus Capital is an Atlanta-based wealth management firm focused on serving successful individuals, families, foundations, and endowments. Known for its high-touch, proactive wealth management model, Gratus is an industry leader in the Southeast and beyond—earning numerous awards and “best of” mentions. Gratus is also a partner firm in the Focus Financial Partners family, a collaborative network of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms.

Forbes’ Top 100 Wealth Advisors in the U.S. Ranking Methodology
Gratus was ranked number 59 out of 100 Top Wealth Advisors in the United States in July 2016. The Forbes ranking of America’s Top Wealth Advisors, developed by SHOOK Research, is based on an algorithm of qualitative and quantitative data, rating thousands of wealth advisors with a minimum of seven years of experience and weighing factors like revenue trends, assets under management, compliance records, industry experience and best practices learned through telephone and in-person interviews. Portfolio performance is not a criterion due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK receive a fee in exchange for rankings.

Investment News’ Selection Methodology
Gratus was ranked as one of the Top RIAs – Largest Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisory Firms in the U.S. in the December 2013 issue of Investment News magazine. Gratus was ranked #250 out of 1,372 entries. InvestmentNews qualified firms headquartered in the United States based on assets under management data reported on Form ADV to the Securities and Exchange Commission as of May 1, 2015. Gratus did not pay any fees to be included in the ranking. Gratus did not pay any fees to be ranked.

AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology
In July 2015, Gratus Capital was selected as one of the year’s top-rated Atlanta financial advisors by AdvisoryHQ. To makes its selections, AdvisoryHQ developed a “Top-Down Advisor Selection Methodology” that is based on a wide range of filters including fiduciary duty, independence, transparency, level of customized service, history of innovation, fee structure, quality of services provided, team excellence, and wealth of experience. Gratus did not pay any fees to be ranked.

Press Contact:
Amy Tierney
Gratus Capital
404.961.6000
atierney@gratuscapital.com

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Atlanta, GA—August 1, 2016—Gratus Capital, recently ranked in ForbesTop 100 Wealth Advisors in the U.S., added Marc Heilweil of Spectrum Advisory Services, Inc., also headquartered in Atlanta to its team. The other members of Spectrum to join Gratus include Mark Burton, who will further develop Gratus Capital’s compliance program; Gary Nix, integral to trading operations and reporting initiatives; and Brendan Wagner, who delivers deep investment research and analysis skills.  All together, these executives bring considerable depth in the area of stock market strategy.

Marc Heilweil is a highly respected, veteran portfolio manager whose views have been sought and published by national investment and business publications.  Marc, a graduate of Yale Law School, started his own investment firm in 1977 after leaving the practice of law.

“Marc has been managing money in Atlanta for 40 years,” said Hank McLarty, President and Founder of Gratus Capital. “He’s built a strong, talented team. We’re excited to leverage their market expertise, and explore valuable synergies for our clients and theirs.”

In addition to decades of experience, Marc Heilweil brings a sizeable client base. Gratus leaders are looking forward to rounding out these established relationships with the high-touch, highly-personalized brand of financial planning that sets them apart from industry peers.

“We offer our clients balanced, comprehensive financial advice,” explained McLarty. “In essence, we’re acting as each family’s personal CFO. Our decision to partner with Marc is rooted in this commitment to big-picture wealth management.”

In conjunction with steady momentum from client referrals and center-of-influence networking, Gratus leaders expect to pursue more strategic partnerships. And yet McLarty is resolute about preserving the firm’s values. “’Gratus’ means grateful steward. We’re driven by a sincere gratitude for our clients, which is reflected in our daily efforts to serve and exceed their expectations.”

 

Forbes’ Top 100 Wealth Advisors in the U.S. Ranking Methodology  Gratus was ranked #59 out of 100 Top Wealth Advisors in the United States in July 2016.  The Forbes ranking of America’s Top Wealth Advisors, developed by SHOOK Research, is based on an algorithm of qualitative and quantitative data, rating thousands of wealth advisors with a minimum of seven years of experience and weighing factors like revenue trends,  assets under management, compliance records, industry experience and best practices learned through telephone and in-person interviews. Portfolio performance is not a criteria due to varying  client objectives and lack  of audited data. Neither Forbes or SHOOK receive a fee in exchange for rankings.

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Gratus Capital, LLC
3350 Riverwood Pkwy, Suite 1550
Atlanta, GA 30339
Phone: (404) 961-6000
Toll Free: 1 (888) 707-0773
Fax: (404) 961-6020