What Is A Fiduciary? Why Should It Matter For Investing And How Can You Know If Your Advisor Is One?

 What Is A Fiduciary? Why Should It Matter For Investing And How Can You know If Your Advisor Is One?      

By: Robert Schneeweis, Chief Executive Officer

By definition, a fiduciary is a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons to manage assets. Essentially, a fiduciary owes to that other entity the duties of good faith and trust. The highest legal duty of one party to another, being a fiduciary requires being bound ethically to act in the other’s best interests.

This term “fiduciary” is a very good thing to hear if you’re searching for a financial advisor. It means the advisor is “legally required” to put your interests first, rather than enhancing their compensation. Fiduciary duty eliminates conflict of interest concerns which makes advice more trustworthy. Not all financial advisors are fiduciaries. All investment advisors registered with the SEC or a State securities regulator (Registered Investment Advisors or RIA) must act as fiduciaries. Broker-dealers, stockbrokers and insurance agents are only required to fulfill a “suitability obligation”. This means that while the advice they give you may be suitable to your situation; they may substitute a higher cost product that pays them more for a similar product that better aligns with your interest at a lower cost. This same conflict exists – albeit in a less visible way – with a group of advisors known as “Hybrid” advisors. These advisors work for large firms that offer both “fee-based” services and brokerage services and manage some of your money on a Fee-based basis but also put some of your money in products where they receive a commission. Fee-only advisors are sometimes seen as operating with less of a structural conflict of interest than brokers or other advisors who earn commission, which can vary from one product to another. However, in that mode, the advisor might have the incentive to engage in excessive trading activity or favor a specific investment that will net the largest commission or fee.

What about automated / on-line or “Robo-Advisors” which advertise as RIAs? They insist that they are fiduciaries. They are registered investment advisors, but are they fiduciaries? They typically only offer advice based on a relatively short risk questionnaire, but rarely get a full financial picture or understanding of goals. An back and forth discussion of goals and attitudes toward risk seems critical to providing fiduciary services and cannot be adequately addressed by checking a few boxes.

Choosing a fiduciary financial advisor can give you greater peace of mind. With a fiduciary financial advisor, you’ll know that the person managing your money is legally obligated to make decisions in your best interest. While non-fiduciary advisors are not necessarily bad actors, it’s easier to ensure that you’re working with someone who has your best interest at heart if you opt to work with a fiduciary.

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss a plan for you:

Yes Wealth Management:


Financial Care That’s Refreshingly Human. ®

Financial Care That’s Refreshingly Human. ®

By: Robert Schneeweis, Chief Executive Officer

Recently I was speaking with a young local woman who I’ve known for some time, and she asked me, “What exactly do you do at Yes Wealth?”.  While we have recently changed our name to Yes Wealth Management and moved to our own building in Mahtomedi, we’ve been successfully providing investment and financial advice for over 30 years.  Today people can feel surrounded by the white noise of advertising and marketing from mega companies who have unlimited budgets and by small companies trying to make their mark on TV, internet pop-ups etc.  On the other hand, we have served our clients since 1990, growing through word of mouth without TV, or filling up your mailboxes or email addresses. With so many pitches today focused on getting people’s attention, to call or log-in for some special need through so many different communications, it’s understandable that investors do not have a lot of trust that there is someone out there to help them with their questions.  That is why we work so hard to provide “Financial Care that’s Refreshingly Human®”.  That means turning industry white noise and terms like “Digital Currency”, “Indexed Returns” “ESG (Environmental and Social Governance Investing)” and “Robo Advising” into real human terms that clients can understand and help them distinguish how it may fit for them.  We help our clients get answers to their important financial questions.  How will inflation affect me?  How do I reach my family’s goals or help future generations?  How will tax changes affect me? We help you get to clarity on your financial future and provide you with solutions that relate to today’s changing world.

Our founders and management are recognized nationally, internationally and locally for their backgrounds and expertise.  We use our knowledge and insights to help you develop plans to accomplish your goals.  While we continue to create new ideas in ESG investing and managing investment risk, our continued focus is to bring modern, institutional investment ideas to all individuals at every stage of life. Know that we are here for you in both good and challenging times, to give you our perspective, to discuss your options, or simply to talk things through.

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss a plan for you:

Yes Wealth Management:



What To Do About Market Volatility?

What To Do About Market Volatility? 

By: Robert Schneeweis, Chief Executive Officer

It’s not investor mania but Investor complacency about big stock and bonds moves that concerns me.

If you are not confused right now about what investment direction to take, you should be! Even market experts are uncertain about future market direction and volatility. A WSJ article from the other day said “Investors should get used to big stock-price moves, like Monday’s 600 point drop in the Dow, because they’re here to stay”. Well, after that Monday drop, we had VERY FEW calls of concern about the market. Now that may be because we have done a wonderful job creating confidence in our customer base, or possibly, people have already become “used to big-stock moves”.

The S&P 500 was down 13.5% in the fourth quarter of 2018. It had people panicking. So much so that on December 21st the SPDR S&P 500 ETF “DREW IN” the most money it had since February of that year (another dip period). And after the Monday May 13th 617 point drop, the market promptly went up by an almost identical amount over the next three days. So what’s to make of this?

After the Q4 correction of 2018, famous bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine funds reflected on new money flows and said “… People have been so programmed, and feel so frustrated by selling when we get dips that this time they weren’t going to be fooled. This time they were going to buy the dip. I worry about that, though, because it reminds me a little bit about how the credit crisis developed in 2007 and 2008.” Whoever bought in December is “feeling good today” no doubt, but does the upward trajectory of the market continue?

So what’s an investor to do? On one hand, serious questions about global growth and geopolitical events are creating uncertainty which can make us want to sell on dips. On the other hand, the strong US economy and the Federal Reserve’s easy money policy make us want to take advantage of market dips! Well, Robert Shiller, the Yale University economist who shared the Nobel Prize in economics in 2013 reminds us “The professionals may be better at reading balance sheets and income statements and the like, but not at evaluating whether this is 1929 all over again” (or 2008).

So, as I said, we should all be confused. As articulated by Peter L. Bernstein, an economic historian and a widely read popularizer of the efficient market theory: “Understanding that we do not know the future is such a simple statement, but it’s so important. Investors do better where risk management is a conscious part of the process. Maximizing return is a strategy that makes sense only in very specific circumstances. In general, survival is the only road to riches. Let me say that again: Survival is the only road to riches. …. The riskiest moment is when you’re right……. As incredible as it sounds, that makes you comfortable with not being diversified.” And he goes on to say “I view diversification not only as a survival strategy, but as an aggressive strategy, because the next windfall might come from a surprising place. I want to make sure I’m exposed to it.”

Combining survival and growth requires real diversification (which is no longer provided by traditional stock /bond portfolios alone – a story for another day). What are the future growth drivers, Alternative Energy or Environmental and Social Governance (ESG)? And how do you survive economic contractions? We find that real diversification requires us to utilize market neutral, risk controlled and risk protected alternative funds in our portfolios to protect our clients during market volatility and from dreaded “market corrections”. In short, prepare yourself for market downturns before they happen, not after. That is how we manage volatile times like these.

Meet Our New Neighbor!

The Roelofs Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency with over 22 years of experience.  We specialize in Auto, Home and Business insurance.


I believe our Mission Statement sums up what we do perfectly: “ Providing and servicing insurance products for you, your family, and your business; that I would want for myself, my family and my business.


When not in the office Brian and his wife Tina are busy keeping up with their two sons Hank and Willie.  Who both are very active in the Mahtomedi Basketball and Lacrosse programs.


We are very excited to now be sharing this beautiful office space with Yes Wealth Management.  We feel it is the perfect long term fit in downtown Mahtomedi.


We look forward to continuing to help support our community together with them.  – Brian Roelofs

Investing In Our Coronavirus World

Investing In Our Corona Virus World.

By: Robert Schneeweis, Chief Executive Officer

To Our Clients: 

First of all, we hope you and your family are healthy. Here in Minnesota, our state has a “Shelter in Place” order for the next two weeks – and our public elementary and high schools for the most part have gone to “on-line” education until May 4th. I think this is a fairly common look across the rest of our country, so we’re in it with you. These realities point to the many adjustments in our social and economic life that containing the Coronavirus pandemic is requiring. Obviously, the questions we get most consistently these days are:

“Should we be buying the dip?”
“Should we be more in cash?”
“What should we do now?”

So, let’s be clear: we are living in a time dictated by a global health issue. “We all think of a recession as having an economic underpinning, but this has nothing to do with economics. This is literally about trying to stay away from people,” said Aparna Mathur, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. This “pandemic” has in its wake, however, also created a world-wide “economic slowdown” that is affecting our lives and our investments. Of course, it is the health issue that needs to be resolved first. In his initial appearance on morning television Thursday, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell told NBC’s “Today” show that the nation “may well be in a recession” already, but making the country safe has to be the top concern. “The first order of business is to get the virus under control, and then resume economic activity,” he said. The Federal Reserve, and now Congress, have recently made significant moves to help stabilize our economy until social conditions themselves stabilize. What the recovery will look like depends greatly on how soon that starts. The good news here is that it appears our government will not be shy about further stimulus, if needed by our economy.

What sets this downturn apart is how rapidly the virus — and the economic pain — have spread. The question remains whether this will become a long-lasting slump or a short-lived flash recession. Markets try to estimate the future for businesses. Despite current opinions from media pundits, the future essentially relies on how long the US and the global economies will remain hampered by closures and restrictions of various business activities. Unfortunately, the question of when the virus comes under control remains unknown. And money and rhetoric only go so far. All this makes for an incredibly complicated situation for investors who are deciding whether to buy, sell or just sit tight. Two well-known investors (Leon Cooperman and Mohamed El-Arian) state that until the end of April, any statement is one of hope rather than knowledge.

As a result, despite the losses in stocks and bonds that have already taken place this year, our discussions with you will recommend continued caution. Market volatility won’t settle until we reach some sort of inflection point in the coronavirus crisis. It would be at this point that economists would be able to begin modeling the outlook for the economy with any degree of certainty. We then believe that investing in areas the government has decided to support, and companies with strong cash positions, will be attractive options.

Know that we are here for you in both good times and difficult times, to give you our perspective, to discuss your options, or simply to talk things through.

Why Yes Wealth?

Why Yes Wealth:  An Intelligent Path Through a Forest of Often Confusing Investment Choices.

By: Tom Schneeweis, Chief Investment Officer

Many of us are on a constant search for answers to basic questions of how to achieve individual and professional success (whatever that is defined to be). The importance of determining one’s goals or life targets is illustrated in the classic “Alice in Wonderland” where it is pointed out to Alice that; “If you don’t know where you are going it does not matter what path you take”.   This is especially true if one is considering one’s investment path or future financial goals. Moreover, if one is not personally familiar with the investment settings, it may make sense to have someone help to determine what path to take, to make sure you remain on your current path or if necessary to move one away from one’s current path.

Why YES Wealth Management? We do not have the time in this short blog to detail all the reasons why YES Wealth Management may be your best companion, but if you wish to consider YES Wealth as your guide, please visit us at www.yeswealth.com.  We believe that we could have even helped Alice, as we helped many others over the past thirty years, to get through today’s financial forest. Simply put, we are familiar with the new investment landscape and the path you may wish to take or may have to take to get through it.

Fortunately, YES Wealth Management offers a unique set of skills to help you in your quest:

Over Thirty Years of Investment Experience over a wide range of traditional and alternative investments – Offers Truly Independent Direction (Free from Large RIA FirmsPre-packaged Products or Advice)

 Globally Known for Expertise in Investment Risk Management

 Provider of Range of Modern Wealth Management Services

Contact us today to start your wealth management journey with a free consultation from one of our friendly and knowledgeable financial advisors.

There’s Reason for Optimism (But Are Stock and Bond Prices Already Showing It?)

Reasons For Optimism
By: Robert Schneeweis, Chief Executive Officer

Many headlines today reflect data that show things are getting better.  Most important, of course, is the coronavirus.  Even with vaccine issues in Europe and a peak in India, the global trend is encouraging.  Good news indeed, but for investors we have to ask “Does this mean we will see a rise in the market or is much of the good news already in the prices of stocks and bonds?”

Certainly, some companies like airlines, hotels and resorts with the most to gain from economic reopening still look to have ground to make up from the virus-stalled economy.  Housing prices are up dramatically across the U.S.  From those perspectives, the market hasn’t come back too far.  Unemployment numbers appear to be getting better, short-term interest rates are low and government stimulus for infrastructure is likely and kids are back in school.  All reasons for optimism.

What can we expect then going forward?   Many Americans have cash to spend or invest as Congress has been so aggressive with fiscal stimulus.  Will this lead to rising stock prices or concerns over inflation and unpaid loans if they don’t continue these programs?  Investors should be aware that the stock market overall is incredibly expensive in historical terms, and prices are very dependent on the Federal Reserve continuing to support low bond yields.  One measure of long-term return vs risk is the “Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings” (CAPE) ratio or “Shiller PE ratio”.  At the current number of 37 it is more expensive than at any time in 150 years other than late 1999 and early 2000 (the dot-com bubble) and long-term interest rates are at historically low levels.  The Federal Reserve is no doubt watching the prospects for employment, wages and prices, but they need investors to understand that it’s willing to rethink its monetary policy when the numbers demand.  At the moment, I’m not sure that message is getting through to investors.

As we look at the current pandemic, it’s interesting to see that 1920 had a number of similarities to 2021 – digging out from the Spanish Flu beginning in 1918 vs today’s Covid-19, the combustion engine of a century ago vs the incredible new computer technology of today.  So, will we have a booming stock market like the 1920’S?  One critical difference between the start of the 1920s and today is as 1920 came to a close, the U.S. stock market was the cheapest on record – before or since – and today’s market by contrast is one the most expensive.  The CAPE/Shiller ratio is not a signal about what will happen to stock prices in the near term or any specific path in the years ahead but it has been a good barometer of the return one may expect over the medium term.

Bottom line, the CAPE/Shiller ratio is not a holy grail of return forecasting, and factors other than “valuation” also impact future returns, such as GDP growth, investor sentiment (outlook for future investment returns), politics (stimulus and spending bills) and productivity gains.  Investors need to be aware though that US stock market returns may be lower the next 10 years than they have been the last 10.  Interest rates, while historically low now, won’t stay that way forever and existing bond holdings will suffer when rates do rise.  More growth potential may exist outside of the US.  But for now, the issue of the pandemic is getting better, kids are back in school and people are getting back to work, and for that we can all be thankful.


Top 5 Questions To Ask When Looking For A Financial Advisor

5 Questions To Ask When Looking For A Financial Advisor.

By Sarah Johnson CFP®, MS, RD

There is no doubt that having a good financial advisor keeps us on track and more likely to reach our financial goals. However, these days finding the right one who puts your interest first can be difficult.

Here are the top 5 questions you need to ask when interviewing potential advisors.

1.) Are you a fiduciary? While we would love to think that all people working in the financial world are legally required to act in their client’s best interest, this is not the case. Non-fiduciaries are only required to recommend products that are “suitable”- even if they come with a higher price tag for you. This is why you must find an advisor who is legally obligated to always act in YOUR BEST INTEREST. Above all else, this is the most important question to ask potential advisors.

2.) How do you get paid? Going along with question #1, try to find a fee-only advisor (those particular words: fee-only. Do not be tricked by fee-based – this is not the same thing). Fee only means they will not be making commissions on anything they sell you, which decreases the potential for conflict of interest. Fee only advisors may charge a percentage of the assets they manage for you (1% is common), a flat fee, or an hourly fee. In short- they do better when you do better, and that is a relationship you want.

3.) What are my TOTAL costs? What you are paying should always be very clear and transparent. Fees should never come as a surprise. There will likely be some fees on top of what you pay your advisor, and it is crucial you know what those are. Ask if they will be placing you in ETFs (exchange traded funds), or mutual funds, and if mutual funds, ask what their fees are. Even so called “free” robo advising can have hidden costs to the client.

4.) Do you personally invest in what you recommend to your clients? Does the advisor put their money where their mouth is? Do they believe in what they recommend enough to invest their own money that way? If not- find out why?

5.) Are you independent from the products that you recommend? An independent advisor does not sell in-house products (sometimes referred to as proprietary funds). Instead, they will choose your products based not on what is being pushed from overhead, but rather what is in your best interest, matching your needs and risk profile. 

Is Your Brain On Track For Retirement? Preventing Alzheimer’s

Is Your Brain On Track For Retirement? Preventing Alzheimers.

By Sarah Johnson CFP®, MS, RD

Take a moment and picture what you believe your retirement years will look like. For most, the idea of retirement brings up images of travel, relaxation, and meaningful time with family and friends. We all know that in order to achieve our retirement dreams, we must save money in our early years. We are given very specific advice on how to reach these goals: Max out your 401k, save 10%-15% of your salary annually, contribute to an IRA, etc. However, if you are working hard to save enough money to fund your retirement dreams, let’s make sure to also make a plan for how you will get there in a healthy body that can enjoy this life you dream of.

Alzheimer’s is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA. While it is true that there is a strong genetic component to developing Alzheimer’s, our future is not written in stone. Environment plays a significant role. Experts agree that the development of Alzheimer’s is a combination of age, genetics, environment, and lifestyle. While we cannot change our age or genetics, we can make changes to the other risk factors. Most of the research showing the rapid growth of Alzheimer’s disease is based off of those living an “American Diet lifestyle”. Change your lifestyle, change your outcome.

It is well researched that what we eat affects our chances of developing Alzheimer’s and/or other memory issues as we age. The problem however, is that there are so many different recommendations out there, and many of these diets that claim to help have so many rules it can be difficult to know where to begin. But here is the good news: there are a few common threads and simple steps you can take to make a significant impact on your brain health.


Diet has a powerful effect on brain health. Most diets fail as they force us to focus on what we can’t have. Instead, try focusing on what you can have. Put good in, get good out.

Top Powerful Brain Foods

  • Blueberries!!! (organic when possible): Aim for minimum of 2x/wk
  • Fish- Powerful Omega 3’s. Aim for 1x/week
  • Nuts & Seeds: Healthy fat & antioxidants: Aim for 5x/wk
  • Leafy Greens & Other Vegetables: Packed with vitamins. Aim for 6x. wk
  • Beans: High in fiber & protein, aim for 2x/wk

And here is one more suggestion you may like. It has been shown that one glass of red wine/day helps reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s (and no, more is not better, sorry).


While food will give you the most bang for your buck, if you have a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s, find an MD or Registered Dietitian who can discuss supplements with you. CoQ10, Omega 3’s, and ALA can be helpful. Talk to your health provider about what amount, if any, of these you should be taking.

Vitamin D is worth looking at even if you do not have a family history of memory issues. Low vitamin D as we age is associated with an increased rate of cognitive decline, and those with even mild vitamin D deficiency had a 53% increased risk of developing dementia. Those with severe deficiency had a 123% increased risk. Particularly those living in northern states where we get less sunshine should have their vitamin D levels tested.


While diet will always have the biggest impact on your brain health, we have all heard the phrase “Use it or lose it”. Recent research shows that this is very true come retirement. Retirees who are not using their brains for complicated tasks, can have up to a 40% faster decline in short term memory. Here are some things you can do in addition to healthy eating, to help keep your brain sharp.

Top Brain activities to help avoid Alzheimer’s

  • Interact with people-Regular, meaningful interactions with others is great protection for the brain.
  • Volunteering is a wonderful option to boost your brain and your spirit.
  • Crossword puzzles– if you prefer online, check out one of the many brain games apps.
  • Turn off the TV and pick up a book- Reading calms nerves and stimulates the brain keeping you mentally alert; television has the opposite effect.
  • Surround yourself with youth– play with children- doing so helps get you moving and using your creative skills.
  • Exercise- Exercise benefits brain cells by increasing blood flow to the brain. Also, high blood sugar is connected to some forms of Alzheimer’s. Exercise helps keep your sugars in check, and sharpens short term memory.
  • Take up gardening- being outside, touching the earth which is filled with probiotics, and the satisfaction of seeing something grow is a perfect combination for overall health.

Developments In The U.S. Coronavirus Saga

Developments In The Corona Virus Saga.

By: Robert Schneeweis, Chief Executive Officer

The daily reports on the Coronavirus and our economy can create anxiety for just about everyone. Are we in or headed to a prolonged recession? Has the stock market bottomed and should be investing now? Positive news from the health care sector and unprecedented support by the government appears to be helping stabilize our economy and the stock market. What is the way forward and what will the next year or so look like?

The Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota are proposing an increase in their ability to test and track the virus. Similar efforts are being made elsewhere. Our Health-Care system has remained afloat to date and recently we have seen unprecedented and swift actions by the Federal Reserve and Congress to support the economy while science works on a vaccine and a better understanding of the virus. When the Federal Reserve is as aggressive with its actions as it its now, and interest rates are low as they are now, the stock market is generally supported. So, what is the way forward and what will the next year or so look like

Given that it is widely expected that the Fed and Congress will continue providing economic support, the stock and bond markets should be able to weather near-term news on unemployment and corporate earnings. We are also optimistic about the ability of our scientific community to come up with solutions soon and believe that once the crisis is contained, the nation and economy will revive, and possibly faster than some expect. But some sectors may have bigger problems – airlines, restaurants, brick and mortar retail, landlords, and possibly hotels. Lots of jobs there. And a good number of small businesses may just not come back. Thing is, it could be a lumpy recovery with quite a bit of job dislocation and higher long-term unemployment. But overall, GDP growth should come back starting this fall, driven by pent-up demand. An important economic factor is how soon business can get back to work. The longer businesses and their employees are out, the more economic pain we will endure and the longer it will take to get our world functioning again.

Exactly how the pandemic will end depends in part on medical advances still to come. It also will apparently depend on how we all behave in the interim. Given all of these factors, we are optimistic, but also aware of the questions still to be answered, including yours. We are here to talk over your situation at any time.