Last week Democrats published a wide-ranging agenda for the potential Biden presidency. One section of it—which received much publicity in our niche wealth management world—was about the party’s intent to get rid of the SEC’s new Reg BI. However, another part of that plan was much less covered, but no less important: the party also wants to bring back a true fiduciary rule, potentially very similar to the failed DOL rule 1.0. Interestingly, Barbara Roper, head of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, says that the approach the Democrats would likely take is not to create an entirely new rule, but edit and “reign in” conflicts in the existing rule.
FINSUM: So this is quite unsurprising, but very important. What was interesting to us is Roper’s comment about the way Democrats would likely go about this. In our view, modifying an existing rule would be much faster than crafting a new one, which means a new version might come into force a whole lot faster than expected.
There has been a lot of hype about cloud computing for the last few years. Growth in the sector has been massive, and Amazon Web Services (Amazon’s cloud business) has become a key indicator for investors. A new report out today shows why now might be a good time to invest more in the sector. The report shows that large enterprises are planning to increase their overall spending on cloud product, and by 2021, the cloud will account for 32% of overall tech budgets versus 30% today. More impressively, spending on the cloud by large enterprises is up 59% since 2018 to $74m annually.
FINSUM: A 2% shift in tech spend into the cloud alone is a good driver of business. It is probably a good medium to long-term bet to take a look at a handful of cloud stocks. Check out at Global X's CLOU for a good cloud computing ETF.
For the last week, Microsoft has been in a delicate dance to try to acquire the hugely popular social media app TikTok. President Trump has been adamant that it needs to be bought by US interests or he may ban the app. Last week, Microsoft said it was trying to acquire the company, but then swiftly abandoned the efforts because Trump said he would block the deal. Now, Microsoft says that Satya Nadella and Trump have spoken and gotten on the same page and that the deal is back on. Wedbush thinks the deal could be transformational for Microsoft as it would put them in direct competition with Facebook, Alphabet etc, and give them a huge social media prize while those competitors remain mired in major regulatory scrutiny.
FINSUM: TikTok already has 100 million users in the US. We think if this goes through it could end up being a major boost to Microsoft. Perhaps not unlike Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram.
Junk bonds have been on a tear lately. July was the best month for the asset class in nearly nine years, with overall returns near 5%. The average junk bond yield fell from 6.85% to 5.46% over the course of the month on the back on continued monetary and fiscal stimulus. The market has risen so much that many are questioning if they have already missed the opportunity. To this question, one high yield fund manager says “I don’t think so . . . Governments across the world want to make sure credit is working properly”.
FINSUM: As long as sovereign yields stay super low and the Fed and government keep the life lines open, it is easy to imagine yields will keep falling for junk.
Here is an eye-opener for you: odds are that 7 months from today the SEC’s Reg BI and the new fiduciary rule will be no more. The Democrats—who are currently leading in the polls—have published an action plan for a potential Biden presidency. Included in it was a clear plan to reverse the current version of Reg BI, all according to a section of the report entitled “Guaranteeing a Secure and Dignified Retirement”. On page 24 of the document, Democrats say “Democrats believe that when workers are saving for retirement, the financial advisors they consult should be legally obligated to put their client’s best interests first. We will take immediate action to reverse the Trump Administration’s regulations allowing financial advisors to prioritize their self-interest over their clients’ financial wellbeing”.
FINSUM: Because of how polls are trending, these kind of manifestos are becoming very relevant for advisors to consider.