Words of Wisdom

Here you will find information and commentary directly from the Duncan-Newman team. Please check back frequently as we'll be updating content often.

From Bob's Desk

Happy New Year! - January 2021

To a person, I think we are all pleased to kick 2020 to the curb. Gosh, so much misery month after month. Yet I am constantly amazed how ebullient and resilient our culture is. American’s do adapt. I think most of us are excited about 2021 and ready to embrace much of our ‘ol normal life as the vaccine hopefully turns the tide. We are indeed an inherently positive and optimistic people. And I think we all realize how blessed we are to live in these United States.

Managing your all-important funds for those of us at Duncan-Newman Associates is a tremendous honor and an extraordinary responsibility. Many’s a sleepless night we accept as part of the job as we assess and reassess how best to invest your monies while still striving to grow your income. Of late, making certain we stay ahead of the changes caused by the varying political winds in Washington, DC is always a challenge.

As of this moment the Georgia senate election has just been called and it appears the two democratic candidates have pulled out the needed wins thus securing the senate for their team, thanks to the VP vote they’ll have with Kamala Harris. That’ll likely give the Dems the slightest edge possible in making policy for the next two years.

Within hours of the Georgia election being called, we witnessed the very sad spectacle in our nation’s capitol as law and order completely broke down. Throughout this tumultuous couple of days, the markets continued to exhibit their extraordinary resilience and optimism about the near term future; with the Dow Jones blowing right on through the 31,000 level. (A reminder that just last March, as COVID was first taking hold, the index was down to roughly 18,000.) I cannot conjure up a superlative sufficient to express how eye-popping that ten-month change truly is by any historical measurement!

Though the democrats have secured a razor-thin edge in both houses of Congress and the White House, the electorate remains equally divided. Hope springs eternal that perhaps the horrible events at the capitol will bring a lighter touch from both parties in their negotiations going forward. As I’ve said many times, Wall Street prefers Washington gridlock. And we remain pretty close to that even now. While one party can move legislation if they stay united, the odds are some compromise will have to occur in order to “do the people’s business.” I think that is what investment professionals felt as the markets pushed higher despite the apparent turmoil. So a pox on both parties if recent events don’t result in some modest change in behavior. We shall see.

So what to expect in the year ahead with your money given these circumstances?

The markets in the SHORT TERM like the $600 the Republicans grudgingly granted in late December AND they will be utterly euphoric about the Democrat’s open-checkbook of the additional $2,000, with likely more “free money” on the way for so called “infrastructure.” Wall Street lives for the near term candy rush of a stimulus package. So all this free cash will feed that habit for a little while. But like any junkie, the high will result in some amount of withdrawal in the future. As I’ve said before, there will be consequences for spending with abandon; which both parties have done when in power over the last decade. Check out this sobering site to crystalize my point: https://www.usdebtclock.org/

One of the immediate consequences will likely be a sharp rise in taxes. It will all be couched in hackneyed phrases, like, don’t’ worry, “we’re only gonna tax the rich.” But even that popular bromide is reaching its limitations, particularly in states like California.  Capital gains tax rates will almost certainly go up and that will begin to rein in the real estate market. When interest rates start to rise again, (not likely this year), that will create the end of this up cycle in property ownership.

As for equities, the stock market ultimately prefers divided government as I said. We are very close to that now. SO once the stimulus high dies back, the market will top out. Do we see an immediate crash on the near term horizon? No. The ice in the punch bowl has nearly all melted, but the party will go on a little longer, in my opinion. In my view, 2021 will be a year to continue to garner as much income as we can from our investments. Assuming the pandemic does ebb with the inoculations, people (and equity markets), will feel more positive. Opportunities will absolutely present themselves as we evaluate the new order of things.

Earlier today, Brad, Zac and I continued our ever-evolving conversations about the direction we want to take your portfolio as this year matures. We will likely suggest increasing some diversification for additional safety using several additional inflation-hedged vehicles and more diverse bond environments. You will be getting a call from us detailing what changes we envision to ‘prepare and preserve’ while continuing to derive as much cash flow as we can for you. I do not envision a terrible ’21 by any means. We simply want to take advantage of inevitable opportunities that always pop up as the world changes.

Overall, I remain quite optimistic about the year ahead. Particularly as we beat pack the pandemic and regain some control over our lives. In six or nine months, I would think we’ll all feel a heck of a lot happier about the future than we did in 2020. Let’s stay optimistic! You’ll live longer that way and frankly, you have every reason to feel good about the future. Our country is second to none at getting beyond adversity.

From Fariba, Laura, Zac, Brad and yours truly, we wish you a wonderful year ahead. We promise to do our utmost to make it as comfortable and prosperous as we possibly can. Remember, we are ALWAYS here when you need us.

Respectfully submitted,


Robert Duncan, CFP®

Managing Principal

30300 Agoura Road. Suite 280

Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Tel: 818-964-0105 

Fax: 818-964-0103


[email protected]   

Bradley L. Newman
Masters in Financial Planning
Managing Director, Branch Manager
PIM Portfolio Manager
[email protected] 

Zachary Breverman, CFP®
Executive Vice President
[email protected] 
Fariba Hekmat
Senior Registered Account Administrator
[email protected] 
Laura Tully-Cox
Senior Registered Account Administrator
[email protected] 

The opinions expressed here reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of the report and are subject to change without notice. The material has been prepared or is distributed solely for information purposes and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. Additional information is available upon request

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.


October 2020 - Market Update

Dear friends,

Back in the old days (read: pre-COVID) top advisors convened in Phoenix to hear industry thought leaders discuss a number of topics relevant to the needs and concerns of the advisors’ clients. This year’s meeting was – like everything else these days – held as a series of Zoom meetings and webinars.
There were lots of interesting presentations on markets, the economy and the upcoming general election. However, one presentation, “Preventing Identity Theft” given by retired FBI Special Agent Jeff Lanza was particularly eye-opening, due in no small part to the sizeable uptick in COVID-related scams. In real estate wire fraud alone, losses in 2018 topped $150-million! Lanza offers three main concerns:

1) Protect Your Identity
2) Watch Out for Tricks
3) Protect Your Computer

Protect Your Identity:

Criminals obtain victims’ Social Security numbers, apply for credit and steal as much as they can get, ruining the victim’s credit report. However, a simple way to protect oneself is by freezing one’s credit report. Applications submitted by anyone other than the individual are automatically rejected. The freeze can be setup online, then lifted with a PIN when applying for credit. Be sure to contact all of the credit bureaus! (Hint: there are FOUR)

To protect your Social Security account, setup your personal “My Social Security” account online. Go to www.SSA.Gov and create your own profile. There, you will have access to personal estimates of future benefits based on your real earnings, and be able to review benefit statements and earnings history. Additionally, remember the Social Security Administration will not call you to tell you “Your Social Security benefits have been suspended!” This is a common scam tactic. Don’t fall for it!

Another common way for thieves to steal from you is through “check washing.” The bad guys take your outgoing mail, take the checks you are sending to pay your bills, then wash the writing off of them, and replace the payee and dollar amount. The best way to prevent this is to use a locked mailbox, drop your outgoing mail in a post office mailbox – or better still, use a secure web-based payment system instead.

Watch Out for Tricks:

Watch out for look-alike emails. Emails may be sent purporting to have important COVID updates, and be from a well-known organization. They may even claim to be from the CDC with links promising information to help you stay safe. Check the URL (the address), domain (who is it, and where are they located) – to know who really sent the email? COVID scams have spread like a…well, virus.

Likewise, you may receive robocalls on your cell phone about car warranty extensions, offers for “free government money” or folks claiming to be from the IRS. They are all scams to extract money from victims. Do not click on links in emails from folks you do not know and never provide any personal information over the phone!

Protect Your Computer:

I think we are all annoyed by having to keep track of multiple passwords. But, getting lazy about passwords is a recipe for disaster. Imagine a criminal getting access to your email account. They could get access to financial information and important information making it easier to defraud you. Consider using two-step verification. Two-step verification may entail requiring a passcode that was texted to your cell phone or finger print verification on top of your normal password. This has been a proven way to help protect your private information.

Lanza says “Think Before You Download!” You may get a pop up on your computer saying “Your computer has been locked!”, “Suspicious Activity Found”, or “This computer is potentially infected.” They are all scams. Do not call, click or pay if a warning window pops up.

Obviously, these are just a handful of tips. Remember, as we get more proactive, these scammers will come up with new and more creative ways to trick us. We just need to remain vigilant. We here at Duncan-Newman Associates are always looking for ways to help protect you and your money. Let us know if you would like to learn more about ways to stay safe.
All the best,

Bradley L. Newman 

Masters in Financial Planning 
Managing Director, Branch Manager
PIM Portfolio Manager

[email protected]
Duncan-Newman Advisory Team

January 2019

Independence Simplified
Bringing Midwest Culture to the West Coast
Move to WFAN Brings New Values, Platfrom to Duncan-Newman Associates

Los Angeles is the city of stars, sunshine, surfboards, and sand. The lifelong residents and Hollywood transplants march to the beat of their own drum. It’s an atmosphere and a way of life that few places in the U.S. can relate to, especially the Midwest.

When Bob Duncan and Brad Newman of Duncan-Newman Associates in Agoura Hills, on the west end of L.A., made the move to WFAFN, they were able to combine the way of life they had always known with the Midwest culture that WFAFN brought to them.
“Growing up in wirehouses, we were steeped in the culture of L.A. and to an extent New York,” said Newman. “It’s an aggressive culture. WFAFN runs off of Midwest values, and it’s a very different culture than we were used to. It is driven by really strong interpersonal relationships, which you don’t find at a wirehouse.”

After working for wirehouses for more than 50 years combined, Duncan and Newman knew it was time for a change. They did a lot of research and interviewed a wide variety of broker/dealers before choosing WFAFN in 2016. After working through the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, they wanted to make sure they had a strong parent company holding their clients’ assets.

“Before joining WFAFN, there was so much turnover that we constantly had to rebuild relationships with our managers,” said Duncan. “It wasn’t becoming a comfortable fit for us because we were always having to prove ourselves to new management. So we started weighing our options and the possibility of going independent, as well as the highs and lows of what we knew it would entail.”

One of the benefits Duncan and Newman saw as they considered a move to WFAFN was more freedom with how they communicated with their clients. In order to keep their clients in the know of what the ever-changing laws and regulations mean for their investments, they provide updates to a webpage on the team’s website called “Bob’s Desk.” This is a chance for their clients to gain insight on how certain items in the news could affect them and their investments.
Duncan-Newman Associates—Agoura Hills, California (L to R):
Bradley Newman, Managing Director and Branch Manager
Robert C. Duncan, Managing Principal
Zachary Breverman, Executive Vice President

“One of the things that has been central to our growth is a very personal and down to earth way of speaking to clients about what is and isn’t important for our clients in the news,” Newman said. “Bob has a folksy way of talking to clients about difficult things that they really appreciate and resonate with them. Having that in one central place on our website gives clients a place to access it when it’s convenient for them. It also helps us drive clients to our website where they can set up appointments to discuss other important financial topics that might be important to them.”

Not only did WFAFN allow and support Duncan and Newman’s platform to communicate with clients, it also gave them the ability to develop their own brand.

“WFAFN was a means to an end for us,” Duncan said. “We knew we wanted to eventually be able to brand ourselves. Within six months of making the move, we were able to do that. We made our practice’s brand about ourselves and what we can uniquely offer. WFAFN provides that flexibility, which made the move so easy for us. The only regret is that I didn’t do it 20 years sooner.”

Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (WFAFN). Duncan-Newman Associates is a separate entity from WFAFN.

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