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Top Bay Area Financial Advisor Celebrates 50-Year Legacy in Financial Services

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Top Bay Area Financial Advisor Celebrates 50-Year Legacy in Financial Services

Hillis Financial Services CEO looks back on industry changes over 50 years, prepares next generation

SAN JOSE, Calif –Hillis Financial Services, a veteran financial services practice in the Bay Area, today honors CEO Jack Hillis for his 50 years of success and for his dedication to preparing the next generation of financial advisors.

“The key to success in financial services is knowing the past – the most expensive words on Wall Street are ‘This time is different,’” said Hillis. “I was on the front lines during three of the four worst market declines in the past 100 years, the Oil Embargo of 1973, the 2000 Tech Bubble Bust and the 2007 Financial Crisis, as well as witnessed the market drop 22 percent on ‘Black Monday’ in 1987.”

“Despite those declines, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed from a low of 689 in 1971 to over 26,000 in 2018,” continued Hillis. “After 50 years, I still learn something new every day and still come to work exhilarated. I constantly remain optimistic about the future and look forward to the coming years.”

According to Hillis, he has seen just about every mistake that investors can make – and witnessed the effects of fear and greed – as well as observed key tactics that make investors successful.

During his 50-year career, Hillis has seen current events, market movements, regulations and new technologies spur watershed changes within financial advisory. To truly understand the industry, it’s important to be familiar with the industry’s profound evolution over the past 50 years.

“When I entered the industry, everyone was a stock broker and financial planning didn’t exist,” said Hillis. “In 1968, investment choices were quite limited and commissions were fixed and very high. Each firm used the same commission schedule and it was non-negotiable. For an investor to get an active stock price he had to call a stockbroker.”

Below is an outline of Hillis’ five-decade career in financial services, written in his own words. It includes his overview of the decades, highlights historic events and related impacts on the market, and spotlights industry milestones.

1968 to 1979

January 1968 was quite an interesting time to become a stockbroker. The Dow Jones was trading in the low-to-mid 900s and investors were anxiously waiting to hit the magic 1,000.

The current events at that time were quite jarring. We had the Tet Offensive, and the Vietnam War was at its peak. Martin Luther King was assassinated, followed by Robert Kennedy; there were riots on college campuses; and Richard Nixon was elected president at the end of this era.

The 1970s was the decade of stagflation. The Dow began at 800 and closed at 839, with it reaching an all-time high of 1,051 and boasting a record volume of 44.5 million shares in 1976.

The investment fallacy of the day was to invest in the ‘Nifty 50.’ These were 50 stocks that were considered one-decision stocks. People bought them and then forgot about them. The problem was Polaroid and Kreske went bankrupt and Burroughs and Simplicity effectively wiped out shareholder equity.

On August 19, 1979, Business Week issued its famed “Death of Equities” issue with the Dow Jones  at 875 and about to begin the greatest bull market in history.

One of my steadfast rules is that if you do the opposite of what the media is headlining, most times you will be fine.

1980 to 1989

At the start of the 1980s, interest rates were incredibly high. The prime rate was 15.26 percent and money market funds were paying 12.68 percent. The average mortgage rate was over 17 percent. (I was fortunate, I got my mortgage at 16.7 percent.)

The Dow finally broke out of its era of stagflation and closed at a new high of 2,662.95 in 1987.

October 19, 1987 was Black Monday. It was the largest one-day drop in the history of the stock market. The market was down 22.6 percent in a single day. Due to the lack of technology and the high volume (by 1980s standards), the tape was running anywhere from two to four hours behind. Investors had no idea what the actual price of their stocks were.

By the end of 1989, stocks had recovered to the pre-crash level.

1990 to Present

The Dow hit 3,000 in July 1991, 5,000 in November 1995 and 10,000 in April of 1999.

From 1997 to 2001, there was wild speculation in the markets. Speculators were rushing into stocks that never should have gone public. Day trading became the rage, until day traders lost everything.  I remember a comment in the newspaper that said if you were 25 and a millionaire, now you are just 25. In my 50 years, I have never seen a day trader consistently make money. It is impossible. You have to be right too many times.

From a low of 7,891, the Dow recovered to reach a high of 12,820. The financial crisis hit and the market dropped to 6469.

Many in the industry struggled to recover from the dot-com collapse and survive the financial crisis. We survived and flourished by using a proactive approach to controlling risk, having a sell discipline and proper asset allocation strategy.

By 2014, my practice had grown to servicing over $300 million in brokerage and advisory assets through LPL.  Rather than fearing the downturns as many did, my experience enabled me to take the emotion out of investing and make clear, confident decisions. Overall, I have remained bullish on the markets, knowing from history they would go back up. I was able to weather the storm and appropriately manage my clients’ investments.

I believe the next five years have the potential to be some of the most dynamic years in my career.  I plan to stay actively involved.

“I am dedicated to passing along my knowledge and five decades of experience to the next generation of advisors,” said Hillis. “This means inspiring more Millennials to embark on careers in the industry and empowering them with the knowledge they need to succeed.”

“If new and incoming advisors only take away one lesson from my career, I would advise them to stay bullish on the stock markets and be patient,” continued Hillis. “Despite market volatility, prices have historically gone up over time.”

Hillis currently mentors Dylan Bell, an associate advisor at Hillis Financial Services and a member of LPL’s first class of young advisors in its debut program, the LPL Advisory Institute. Hillis hopes that Dylan will keep Hillis Financial in the forefront of investment advisory for the next 50 years.

After starting his career at a large brokerage, Hillis moved into the independent advisor space where he felt he could better serve his Bay Area clients. He founded Hillis Financial Services in 2001 and has been recognized as part of LPL’s Chairman’s Council from 2002-2018, which is based on an annual production ranking and represents less than 2% of the firm’s advisors nationwide, and as a Top Wealth Manager by the National Association of Board Certified Advisory Practices in 2012 & 2013.

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 1

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.

Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.

“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.

“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”

Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.

He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.

Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.

“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.

It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.

The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.

Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 2

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.

“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.

Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.

Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.

The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.

“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”

SCALING UP

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)

 

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G20 to show united front on support for global economic recovery, cash for IMF

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G20 to show united front on support for global economic recovery, cash for IMF 3

By Michael Nienaber and Andrea Shalal

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/ROME (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders are expected on Friday to agree to continue supportive measures for the global economy and look to boost the International Monetary Fund’s resources so it can help poorer countries fight off the effects of the pandemic.

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s top 20 economies, called the G20, held a video-conference on Friday. The global response to the economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus was at top of the agenda.

In the first comments by a participating policymaker, the European Union’s economics commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the meeting had been “good”, with consensus on the need for a common effort on global COVID vaccinations.

“Avoid premature withdrawal of supportive fiscal policy” and “progress towards agreement on digital and minimal taxation” he said in a Tweet, signalling other areas of apparent accord.

A news conference by Italy, which holds the annual G20 presidency, is scheduled for 17.15 (1615 GMT)

The meeting comes as the United States is readying $1.9 trillion in fiscal stimulus and the European Union has already put together more than 3 trillion euros ($3.63 trillion) to keep its economies going despite COVID-19 lockdowns.

But despite the large sums, problems with the global rollout of vaccines and the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus mean the future of the recovery remains uncertain.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz warned earlier on Friday that recovery was taking longer than expected and it was too early to roll back support.

“Contrary to what had been hoped for, we cannot speak of a full recovery yet. For us in the G20 talks, the central task remains to lead our countries through the severe crisis,” Scholz told reporters ahead of the virtual meeting.

“We must not scale back the support programmes too early and too quickly. That’s what I’m also going to campaign for among my G20 colleagues today,” he said.

BIDEN DEBUT

Hopes for constructive discussions at the meeting are high among G20 countries because it is the first since Joe Biden, who vowed to rebuild cooperation in international bodies, became U.S. president.

While the IMF sees the U.S. economy returning to pre-crisis levels at the end of this year, it may take Europe until the middle of 2022 to reach that point.

The recovery is fragile elsewhere too – factory activity in China grew at the slowest pace in five months in January, hit by a wave of domestic coronavirus infections, and in Japan fourth quarter growth slowed from the previous quarter with new lockdowns clouding the outlook.

“The initially hoped-for V-shaped recovery is now increasingly looking rather more like a long U-shaped recovery. That is why the stabilization measures in almost all G20 states have to be maintained in order to continue supporting the economy,” a G20 official said.

But while the richest economies can afford to stimulate an economic recovery by borrowing more on the market, poorer ones would benefit from being able to tap credit lines from the IMF — the global lender of last resort.

To give itself more firepower, the Fund proposed last year to increase its war chest by $500 billion in the IMF’s own currency called the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), but the idea was blocked by then U.S. President Donald Trump.

Scholz said the change of administration in Washington on Jan. 20 improved the prospects for more IMF resources. He pointed to a letter sent by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to G20 colleagues on Thursday, which he described as a positive sign also for efforts to reform global tax rules.

Civil society groups, religious leaders and some Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have called for a much larger allocation of IMF resources, of $3 trillion, but sources familiar with the matter said they viewed such a large move as unlikely for now.

The G20 may also agree to extend a suspension of debt servicing for poorest countries by another six months.

($1 = 0.8254 euros)

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Gavin Jones in Rome; Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Susan Fenton and Crispian Balmer)

 

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