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

See No Evil - October 30, 2020

Dear Friends,

As we last discussed, the election will have its own perverse entertainment value (tragedy and comedy, depending on your life outlook). I dare say it hasn’t disappointed us on that front thus far. At the same time, I suspect we all share the deep desire to have it over with. By November 4th we normally would expect a definitive result and from then on we mere mortals would leave all the ‘big stuff’ to our newly elected officials. But alas, that may not be the case this year. It’ll be entertaining either way to watch the next few weeks unfold.

As of this writing we have just four days to go to our heralded election day. The markets, as I mentioned last time, have shrugged off a truly miserable year and have remained delightfully tame. While we have seen a near term sell-off this last week due to the recent increases in COVID cases nationally, overall the Dow Jones and other indicators have held up remarkably well in 2020. Going into the election and beyond, we appear to still have a light zephyr of a breeze at our back. If Mr. Trump pulls out a win, Wall Street could continue to expect a course of deregulation and taxes to remain stable. Investors generally like that. On the contrary, if Mr. Biden crosses the finish line first, as most of the polls currently predict, the investment mavens appear to be comfortable with the likely large infrastructure and spending bills that should boost the economy into the New Year. So, it appears we may have a Goldilocks election ahead for our monies: not too hot, not too cold (Assuming our top bureaucrats deliver on the long promised vaccine). Let’s continue to hope so, given we all continue to need to find good news wherever we can in 2020.

Now that I’ve given you the ice cream, permit me to melt away some of that optimism. Ultimately, we believe there are headwinds in the distance. I will define “distance” as several years into the future. The federal government spending continues to grow with abandon. Some will say it’s because of the pandemic, and that is true. However to ignore the fact that democratic and republican lawmakers are spending at unprecedented rates this millennia, would be to collectively ignore a slow moving train crash. At some point, likely not in 2021, but perhaps in the next several years, the grim reaper could demand payment for these loose purse strings. Debt could eat our economy alive should interest rates start to rise again.

Thus the proverbial two-edged sword. For the foreseeable months and perhaps several years ahead, we’ll ‘feel’ pretty good about the economy’s changes: delivering growth with the attendant benefit potentially accruing to our investments. However, if our elected officials continue to dupe themselves into believing that we can spend unabashedly in the hopes of creating long term prosperity, there could be an ugly day of reckoning.

For now, it may be prudent to garnish any potential gains and see if any opportunities are available in the year ahead. Rest assured, Duncan-Newman Associates will be watching for signs of the debt debacles approach, and YES, we believe there are numerous strategies we can employ in preparation for the eventuality to prepare you when the time comes.

For now, enjoy the show. Wear your masks. And look forward to a happier year ahead.

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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