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Third Quarter • 2015
A LT A I R I N S I G H T
a quarterly market review.
Photo credit: Joseph F. Alexander
Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
FIVE KEY TOPICS
The Fed’s conflicting signals
and potential change of
course heighten our market
Hiccups in recent U.S.
economic data may signal
a slowdown – and we will
reduce risk exposure if they
appear likely to worsen.
International stocks took a
beating but non-U.S. developed stocks still look more
attractive than U.S. stocks.
Contrary to the consensus market view, we still
believe U.S. bonds will
continue to perform well.
The limitations of monetary policy as an economic
stimulus are becoming
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“The future ain’t what it used to be.” – Yogi Berra (1925-2015)
The steep drop in many financial markets this summer and early fall resulted
in more red ink on quarterly statements
than investors have seen in years. By
any name – correction, downturn, pullback – the decline resulted in a poor
third quarter for stocks and all other
asset classes except bonds, which upheld our expectations, and real estate.
Even after a positive October so far,
U.S. large-cap stocks could log their
first down year since 2008.
While we hardly view this period as
precursor to another cataclysmic 2008,
we do have elevated concerns about
the future, as the late lamented Yankee
catcher once said more colorfully. Our
increased caution stems from not only
the uneven economic conditions but
from what we believe is the Federal Reserve’s misinterpretation of them.
It could be argued that a significant
market setback was overdue, based
purely on historical market trends. The
S&P 500 Index had gone nearly four
years without a 10 percent correction,
just eight months shy of the longest
streak ever, before the culmination of
a swoon that sent it down 12.5 percent
from the peak by late August.
The circumstances that accompanied
it, however, point to more than a periodic market adjustment. Worries about
China’s inexorable slowdown and its
impact on financial markets and developing nations around the globe are
not going away. Nor are those about
the on-again, off-again U.S. recovery,
with corporate earnings flattening, a
still-strong dollar and too-low inflation posing a threat to growth and the
economy still underperforming despite
seven years of zero interest rates.
Pouring gasoline on a potentially flammable situation, the Fed signaled to the
markets repeatedly that it remained intent on raising interest rates this year
even as growth sputtered. While it
may ultimately be forced to back down
on that timing, its insistence fostered
2 Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
Source: Noah Kroese Illustration
months of uncertainty and turbulence in the markets and
created the potential for bigger economic trouble if it follows through.
This latest miscommunication left us, to put it plainly,
fed up with the Fed. Tightening monetary policy under
these conditions would violate the Fed’s pledge to depend on straightforward data analysis in deciding when
to raise rates. It also calls its credibility with the markets
into question, as we discuss further below. To borrow
another line from Yogi, we think the Fed has made “too
many wrong mistakes.”
If we do not see improvement in economic fundamentals
soon, and if the Fed presses ahead with its stated intent
to raise rates this year, we plan to take additional steps
to lower exposure to the most risk-sensitive areas of the
market. First we want to determine if the softening in
gross domestic product growth, manufacturing and other areas is no more than an economic air pocket or rather
the beginning of a downtrend. We are in the process of
doing that by analyzing third-quarter corporate earnings, consulting with managers of our recommended
funds and monitoring key economic data.
Underweighting stocks and higher-risk assets for the
first time since 2012 may be prudent, but more convincing data are still needed. For better or worse, the Fed and
other central banks around the world continue to pull
all the levers they can to coax investors’ money into the
markets and keep it there. The financial system remains
awash with assets from years of these policies, from stimulus packages to zero interest rates to billions in bond
purchases. The long-term effect of these policies on economies remains a mystery. But they have proven to goose
up stocks in the short run.
Read on for expanded views on those and other topics
that absorbed us this quarter:
1. The Federal Reserve’s conflicting signals
and potential change of course heighten our
“I been in the right place
But it must have been the wrong time
I’d have said the right thing
But I must have used the wrong line.”
– Dr. John, “Right Place, Wrong Time”
Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
Annual Percentage Change in PCE Index (Price Index for Personal Consumption Expenditures)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Raising interest rates in this environment for the first
time since 2006 would be the right move at the wrong
prices as being the culprit for this recent deflationary
trend and says they should rise soon; we think that for
supply and demand reasons they will not.
We applaud the Fed’s wish to begin returning rates to
more normal levels. Investors have been looking for a
promised rate increase ever since the recovery began in
2009. But to contemplate doing so under current conditions, after having waited through six years of painfully
slow but still improving growth, would be like stopping
for a yellow traffic light and then starting to barge across
a busy intersection just as the light could turn red.
We have often questioned in our commentaries the wisdom of the easy-money, zero-interest-rate path the Fed
decided to go down over the past seven years and continue to do so (see talking point #5 below for some damning new evidence). Only history can be the final judge.
It seems clear, however, that changing paths now under
current conditions would create an unwarranted risk of
The Fed has two mandates as established by Congress –
to maximize employment and keep prices stable – and
only one is being met at the moment. The 5.1 percent jobless rate is within the range of what the Fed considers to
be full employment, although the absence of significant
wage growth leaves even that in question.
The data, as the Fed has consistently articulated in recent times, must suggest the timing of rate increases;
otherwise, the increase may be unsustainable. As The
Wall Street Journal noted recently, all of the dozen-plus
central banks that have tried to raise rates after slashing
them in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis have been
forced to retreat. The Fed, with its consistent record of
overestimating the pace of economic recovery, seems a
likely candidate to join that group.
There can be no doubt, however, that its target of 2 percent annual inflation is nowhere in sight. Prices as measured by the core PCE price index, the Fed’s preferred
inflation measure, have been under that target for more
than three years now and are trending in the wrong direction. The Fed focuses on the decline in oil and energy
While raising interest rates a quarter of a percentage
point is not material in and of itself, risking the possibility of a prolonged period of volatility if a similar retreat
4 Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
U.S. Annual Real GDP Growth (Estimated vs. Actual)
Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Federal Open Market Committee,
U.S. Census Bureau
becomes necessary does not strike us as a desirable new
path. Even when the Federal Open Market Committee
decided to stand pat in September, Chair Janet Yellen
confused the markets with a mixed message, disclosing that 13 of 17 members still expected to raise rates by
The clumsy messaging of Fedspeak and conflicting public comments by FOMC members has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and eroded investor confidence.
We agree with PIMCO market strategist Tony Crescenzi
that the “phantom rate hike” itself is at the root of all the
volatility. The Fed should stop the rate hike talk and hold
off until the light for the economy turns green, no matter
how long that takes.
2. Flat to deteriorating economic fundamentals
and disappearing earnings growth may signal
a slowdown – and we will lower allocations to
higher-risk assets should we determine they
are likely to worsen.
A year ago, economists at the Fed, the International Mon-
etary Fund and elsewhere looked ahead to 2015 and projected that annual real U.S. GDP growth could reach or
exceed 3 percent for the first time in a decade. This supposed liftoff has yet to clear the launch pad.
The third quarter proved to be another reality check, with
growth estimated at just 0.9 percent by the Atlanta Fed’s
GDPNow forecasting model. It could leave the economy
on a pace for a full-year expansion of less than 2 percent
for only the second time since the recession – a slowing
rate that prompts us to consider pulling back higher-risk
We are not saying that a recession, while possible, is likely in 2016. But besides GDP, several areas we track closely are trending in the wrong direction, giving us pause:
Corporate earnings – S&P 500 earnings, the backbone of
GDP growth, have continued to slacken throughout the
year and third-quarter estimates have been scaled back
sharply in the past three months. The projected 5 percent drop versus a year ago, according to FactSet, would
mark the first back-to-back quarterly declines since 2009.
Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
S&P 500 Operating Earnings
Manufacturing – The manufacturing sector registered its
slowest growth in two years in September, continuing to
cool as a stronger dollar and slowing growth hampered
exports. While manufacturing represents only about a
tenth of the economy, any further decline would mean it
is contracting – a definite red flag for us.
We need to see improvement in these soft spots in order
to be dissuaded from significantly trimming risk.
3. International outlook: (a) Non-U.S. developed stocks still look more attractive than U.S.
equities, even though they got dragged down
with everything else in the third quarter.
Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices
The main culprits are lower global growth, the steep
drop in oil prices and the stronger dollar. Companies
that generate more than half their sales outside the U.S.
were expected to fare much worse, with quarterly earnings falling off 14.1 percent from a year ago. On the
bright side, apart from energy companies, both earnings
and revenue were forecast for growth in the third quarter
(3.0 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively).
Inventory to sales – The wholesale inventory-to-sales ratio has spiked in recent months, reaching the highest level since 2009. An increasing ratio shows that companies
are having trouble moving inventory, generally because
net sales have slowed.
ISM Manufacturing Index
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Despite this category’s dreadful recent performance, we
remain positive on it.
We overweighted the category late last fall because of
the European Central Bank’s commitment to a long-term
monetary stimulus program. After performing well in the
first half of 2015, developed non-U.S. stocks fell 8 percent
in the third quarter. As disappointing as that was, it was
within the range of what could be expected in a broad
market pullback and did not alter our overall view.
Given the ECB’s monetary support, we still think this is
the most attractive equity category going forward. ECB
President Mario Draghi’s recent declaration that the
bank is prepared to step up its bond-buying program as
needed only reinforces our belief.
Economy Air Pocket
6 Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
Next Year’s Comeback Story?
Emerging Markets Price-to-Book Ratio
This is not to say that international developed stocks
would not be vulnerable in a broad market pullback,
as we saw in the third quarter. However, these equities
should perform better than their U.S. peers.
(b) Emerging market stocks are likely to suffer further, but we see a glimmer of light at the
end of the tunnel.
This is a more complicated story. Developing-world
equities were decimated when China’s slowdown and
unexpected August devaluation of the yuan touched off
widespread market turmoil and, combined with U.S. rate
hike speculation, sent investors fleeing. The exodus left
emerging markets on a pace for full-year net outflows
for the first time since 2002. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which gained ground in the first half,
plunged 16.6 percent in the third quarter and was down
19.4 percent from a year earlier.
ers who have rushed back into the category this month
were too early. Emerging economies still face headwinds
from China, slower global growth, heavy debt load burdens and sharply lower prices for the commodities that
many of them depend on. But along with commodities,
these stocks are closer to being attractive than other areas
of the market after the latest drop in prices.
Many of our recommended international managers opportunistically added select emerging market stocks to
their holdings during the summer and fall rout. That is
enough bargain hunting for us for now. We would want
to wait for a more attractive entry point before allocating
more to this category. Emerging markets strikes us as a
good comeback story to potentially increase our recommended weighting as soon as 2016.
4. Contrary to the consensus market view, we
still believe U.S. bonds will continue to perform well.
However, valuations are now more appealing than they
have been in years. Emerging market stocks’ price-tobook ratio, a measure comparing market value to book
value, has been near historic lows. The stocks traded recently at their biggest discount to developed markets in
12 years, according to BlackRock.
Anyone who reads our commentaries regularly knows
that we are big defenders of high-quality bonds whenever they fall out of favor. Like Aretha Franklin, all we’re
asking is for a little respect (just a little bit) from the market pundits who repeatedly forecast higher yields and a
drop in prices and advise dumping bonds.
We think the bottom could lie lower and the bargain seek-
As if further reminder were needed, the recent market
Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
No Yield Surge
10-Year U.S. Treasury Note Yield
Sources: Morningstar, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
tumult provided yet another example of bonds’ value as
a core holding in portfolios during periods of volatility
in particular. While equities fell substantially across the
board, the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF gained 1.4
percent in the third quarter and municipal bonds also
were in the black.
Even amid rising expectations of an interest rate hike,
our contrarian position on bonds for the last two years
has been largely vindicated. Yes, yields could rise if and
when the Fed boosts rates. But given the long-prevailing
economic conditions – weak inflation and mostly sluggish growth – we would not expect them to rise too much.
In our view, yields are far likelier to move lower from
their current level than they are significantly higher. This
has already been the case so far in 2015, with the yield
on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury Note declining
slightly from 2.17 percent at the start of the year to 2.05
percent at this writing.
We are confident enough in the positive outlook for
bonds that we may add to our fixed income position if
the economic outlook fails to improve. Increasing our allocation to bonds also would reflect our expectation for
continued market volatility.
A final word about bonds: September 26th marked ex-
actly a year since the forced departure from PIMCO
of Bill Gross – an anniversary that Gross, the company
founder and manager of PIMCO Total Return, seems to
have celebrated with a whopper of a lawsuit against his
old firm. As our clients will recall, we promptly replaced
Total Return with Vanguard Total Bond as our interim
taxable bond fund. We recently approved DoubleLine
Core Fixed Income as PIMCO’s long-term replacement.
While one year is not nearly enough to properly evaluate
fund performance, a review of returns from that period
shows that so far the moves have added value. PIMCO
Total Return had a return of 1.6 percent during the period, lagging both Vanguard Total Bond’s 2.4 percent
and DoubleLine’s 2.6 percent. Meanwhile, Gross has
struggled initially at his new fund; Janus Global Unconstrained Bond lost 2.2 percent.
5. The limitations of monetary policy as an
economic stimulus are becoming increasingly
Despite our skepticism that monetary tools such as quantitative easing and zero interest-rate policy can restore
ailing economies to good health, we have tried to remain
open-minded as these experiments by the Fed and other central banks unfold. But it is becoming increasingly
clear that they are not a cure-all.
8 Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
S&P 500 Index Level
QE’s Impact on Stocks
Sources: Morningstar, Federal Open Market Committee
By no means should the beneficial effects of QE be overlooked. Most importantly, these activist policies are credited with helping to ensure that the Great Recession did
not become a second Great Depression. Their effect on
stocks also is inarguable.
However, years of near-zero rates and $7 trillion in monetary stimulus put to work in major industrial economies
since the 2008 financial crisis have left investment and
growth stuck below pre-crisis levels. In the United States,
aside from sluggish growth, 40 consecutive months of inflation below the Fed’s 2 percent target suggest that the
zero rates put in place to spur healthy inflation have accomplished just the opposite.
One of the Fed’s own officials found fault with the policies in a recently published white paper, noting that not
just the U.S. but Japan and Switzerland remain bogged
down by very low inflation or deflation despite their central banks’ aggressive actions. “There is no work, to my
knowledge, that establishes a link from QE to the ultimate goals of the Fed – inflation and real economic activity,” wrote Stephen D. Williamson, vice president of the
St. Louis Fed. “Indeed, casual evidence suggests that QE
has been ineffective in increasing inflation.”
In terms of economic activity, U.S. gross domestic product has yet to top 2.5 percent in any calendar year since
the recovery, as mentioned above, while wage gains have
been mired around 2 percent or below. This disappointing payback for the billions of dollars pumped into the
financial system seems to bolster the argument that the
capital has gone to unproductive places.
The primary beneficiary has been the U.S. stock market,
which with QE’s help has more than tripled since the
lows in March 2009. Investors are certainly appreciative
of that. But of course that was hardly the sole or even
primary objective of the policy.
Quantitative easing is still great for stocks, and we would
add to our risk asset allocations if the Fed were to announce QE4. What would be more beneficial to investors
and everyone else in the long run, however, is a robust
and well-balanced underlying economy.
What we have learned from years of QE is that monetary
policy alone cannot solve our problems. Perhaps it can
put a floor in, or keep things from deteriorating, but it
alone cannot return the economy to a normal, healthy
Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015 Altair’s Advice
The Federal Reserve’s rhetoric about raising interest
rates at a time when it should not has been a weight on
the market for months. In large part because of that, our
concern about market risks has risen.
Recent hiccups in key economic data suggest the possibility for greater volatility if the Fed tightens at a time
when growth already is softening. Should further easing
be needed, the time elapse from rate hike to recognition
of error to easing could be negative for equities.
For the time being, we retain our neutral weighting for
higher-risk assets as well as for medium- and lower-risk
Within equities, we still like the relative outlook for nonU.S. developed stocks despite their recent downturn because of continued monetary support anticipated from
the European Central Bank.
Quotes of the Quarter
“Any ship, however large, may occasionally get
unstable sailing on the high seas.”
– Xi Jinping, Chinese president
“We put everything we could to work and (U.S.
growth) is still just slightly better than 2 percent.
That is some sign the tools did not have the potency we expect.”
– Dennis Lockhart, Atlanta Fed president and
member of the Federal Open Market Committee
“I think the joyride is over. I don’t think we’re going to have another ‘08 ... but I think this market is
in very dangerous territory.”
– Carl Icahn, activist investor
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
– Yogi Berra
Commodities, like emerging market stocks, face more
challenging conditions in the near term but have fallen
so far that they may present attractive investing opportunities next year.
We have added a new manager that is designed to handle volatility, in keeping with our view that the uptick in
volatility will persist. This hedged/opportunistic strategy has an impressive long-term track record and enables
us to reduce risk exposure.
We believe bonds will continue to perform better than
conventional market thinking holds, with weak inflation ultimately forcing yields lower and sending prices
Bull market imperiled: Rate hike uncertainty, falling energy prices and a weaker global growth outlook combined to produce the worst three-month period for U.S.
stocks in four years. Following a slim gain in the first
half, the decline put large-cap stocks in the red for the
year and at risk of registering their first annual loss since
The iShares S&P 500 ETF, an investable benchmark for
large caps, shed 7.0 percent in the quarter and was down
5.9 percent year to date. The underlying S&P 500 Index
remained down 9.9 percent from its May high after enduring its first official correction, or 10 percent pullback,
since the summer of 2011. U.S. large caps trailed their
international counterparts by 1.8 percentage points for
2015 through three quarters.
After outperforming large stocks in the first half, small
caps had a dismal third quarter. The iShares Russell
2000 ETF, an investable gauge of the small-cap market,
fell 12.2 percent and was negative 8.0 percent through
September. In market downturns, uneasy investors often view small caps as riskier investments and sell them
ahead of mega-sized stocks.
Growth stocks continued to outpace their value counterparts for the year. Their advantage shrank in some
10 Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
market-cap categories, however, following a poor quarter that left both investing styles as net losers across the
board for 2015. The iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF was
negative 5.5 percent year to date, 5 percentage points better than the corresponding value ETF, after plunging 13.2
percent in the quarter. Among large caps, the iShares
Russell 1000 Growth ETF widened the year-to-date edge
over its value counterpart to 7.5 percentage points despite falling 5.7 percent.
year to date.
Energy and materials stocks, both hit hard by the steep
drop in commodities, were the biggest losers among the
S&P 500 sectors with declines of 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Health care stocks, the top performer
in each of the first two quarters on the strength of merger-and-acquisition activity, also saw a double-digit loss
– negative 11 percent. The only sector to post a gain was
utilities, the worst performer in the first half, at plus 4
percent. The Fed’s assurance that it will keep interest
rates low boosts the appeal of utilities’ dividend yields.
The ripple effect from China’s stock market meltdown
and cooling economy wreaked havoc on equities worldwide. Developed and emerging market countries alike
with strong trade relationships with China were hardhit.
The iShares MSCI EAFE ETF, an investable proxy for nonU.S. developed-world stocks, lost 8.1 percent to go negative for the year at minus 4.1 percent. Measured without
the dollar impact, the underlying MSCI EAFE Index lost
8.9 percent in local currency in a quarter when the dollar
declined slightly against other currencies and was down
0.6 percent year to date. The iShares MSCI All-Country
World ex-US ETF, another investable benchmark that includes emerging markets, fell 10.2 percent in the quarter
and was negative 7.8 percent for 2015.
Emerging markets were walloped by China’s stock
swoon and concerns about lower commodities prices
and the global growth slowdown. The iShares MSCI
Emerging Markets MSCI shed 16.6 percent and stood at
negative 15.9 percent for the year. In local currency, the
losses were 12.8 percent for the quarter and 9.0 percent
The biggest decliners among global equities indexes included China’s Shanghai Composite (down 29 percent),
Japan’s Nikkei (-14.1 percent) and Germany’s DAX (-11.7
percent), all of which had their worst quarter in years. In
dollar terms, only equity returns in Hungary and Russia
remained positive for the year, while MSCI Brazil was
down 43 percent.
U.S. real estate investment trusts were among the few
winners in the third quarter, going positive after the
Fed’s decision to hold off on an interest rate increase.
Like utilities stocks, REITs are particularly sensitive to
rises in rates. The Vanguard REIT Index Fund gained 2
percent but remained 4.3 percent negative for the year.
Internationally, the Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Real Estate
ETF fell 7.5 percent, with most of the sell-off occurring in
August when weak Chinese economic data and Beijing’s
surprise devaluation of the yuan rattled global markets.
For 2015, the global REITs fund was down 3.8 percent
through three quarters.
Energy and other commodities were routed by China’s
financial turmoil and underlying economic slackening.
U.S. interest rate uncertainty and the global economic
downtrend also weighed on prices. The iPath Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return ETN, an investable
benchmark which tracks a diversified basket of 22 commodities, plummeted 15.9 percent and was down 18.3
percent year to date through September.
Oil’s more than year-long descent steepened, with crude
sliding 24 percent on data showing an increasing global
supply glut and declining industrial profits in China. As
a sector, energy prices fell 19 percent.
Declining growth and demand in China profoundly affect the prices of a wide range of commodities. Besides
being the world’s second-largest consumer of crude oil,
the country accounts for as much as half of global demand for key industrial commodities such as iron ore,
Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015 copper, aluminum, zinc and nickel, all of which fell
sharply. Other commodities such as gold, silver and
platinum also sold off, and most grains saw double-digit
drops. The only three winners were tin, sugar and rice.
Hedged/opportunistic strategies declined in the turbulent third quarter but generally less than stocks did.
Equity-tilted strategies such as closed-end funds fared
worse. Hedged strategies, which include global macro,
long/short and managed futures typically outperform
stocks and underperform bonds during market downturns.
Bond returns also were solid in developed countries
outside the United States. Our global fixed income investable benchmark, a 60/40 blend of the SPDR Barclays
International Treasury Bond ETF and the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF, returned 0.6 percent to reduce its
year-to-date loss to 2.6 percent.
Municipal bonds performed similarly to Treasurys, gaining after the Fed left interest rates unchanged. Prior to
that, they had been dragged lower amid broad market
uncertainty in August. The Market Vectors’ short and
intermediate ETFs, Altair’s investable gauge of the U.S.
muni market, chalked up a 1.5 percent gain in the quarter
and was up 1.0 percent for the year.
The HFRX Equity Hedge Index, which is comprised of
investable hedge funds, lost 5.4 percent in the quarter
and was down 3.1 percent for the year. The HFRI Fund of
Funds Strategic Index, which tracks funds that generally
engage in more opportunistic strategies including sectorspecific investing, fell 3.3 percent but remained narrowly
positive for 2015 with a 0.4 percent return. The HFRX
Global Index, an investable benchmark which includes
international funds, declined by 4.3 percent to fall into
negative territory for the year at minus 3.0 percent.
U.S. bonds, both taxable and tax-free, largely held up
well through the eventful quarter. Instead of falling in
anticipation of a coming interest-rate hike, they were
lifted when investors sought refuge from the turmoil in
The Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF, a mix of U.S.
Treasurys, corporate and other investment-grade bonds,
advanced 1.4 percent and was up 1.1 percent for the year.
Corporate bonds were buffeted by the same broad selloff that affected stocks and commodities. But Treasurys
carried the benchmark fund higher, benefiting from both
their role as a safe haven and from yields that fell with
sinking inflation expectations. Bond prices rise when
Altair Insight reflects our thoughts and opinions, which are based on data and information from various third-party sources which we
believe to be reliable. It is not intended as specific investment or legal advice. Opinions herein are subject to change without notice. Past
performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.
© 2015 Altair Advisers LLC. All Rights Reserved.
12 Altair Insight • Third Quarter • 2015
Steven B. Weinstein, CFA®, CFP®
President & Chief Investment Officer
Rebekah L. Kohmescher, CFP®, CPA
Managing Director & Director of Investment Operations
Matthew D. Mochel
Jason M. Laurie, CFA®, CFP®
Megan A. Babowice
Client Service Assistant
Bryan R. Malis, CFA®, CFP®
Jason D. Carr
Michael J. Murray, CFA®, CFP®, CAIA
Donald J. Sorota, CFP®, CPA
Directors and Consultants
Rebecca E. Gerchenson, CFA®
Timothy G. French, CFP®, CPA
Matthew A. Gaines, CFA®, CFP®
Thomas C. McWalters
Daniel J. Sciarretta, CFP®
Daniel L. Tzonev, CFA®
Richard K. Black, CFP®
Joseph F. Alexander, CFP®
Client Service Assistant
Michael F. Feurdean
Client Service Assistant
Aaron D. Dirlam, CFA®, CAIA
Director of Research
Paul S. Courtney, CFA®, CAIA
Manager of Research
James Shen, CAIA
Senior Research Analyst
David C. Carpenter
Investment Communications Analyst
CHRISTOPHER R. LAMERS
Altair Advisers provides unbiased investment counsel to wealthy individuals, families, foundations and endowments. In the commission-dominated world
of financial services, Altair stands apart as a firm committed to providing objective advice that is free from the kinds of conflicts of interest that are pervasive
to our industry. We currently serve a nationwide base of clients who have entrusted us to supervise approximately $4 billion of assets.
We often describe our role as a family’s independent Chief Investment Officer because we provide investment advice that reflects a client’s full financial
circumstances. Our firm has a depth of experience in advising clients on myriad financial planning, tax planning, accounting, insurance and estate-related
issues and therefore we know how crucial it is to integrate clients’ investment portfolios with all aspects of their financial plans.
Among the many accolades our firm has received, Altair and its principals have most notably been recognized in Barron’s Top 100 Independent Financial
Advisors every year since the rankings’ inception.
Altair Advisers llc
303 West Madison Street, Suite 600
Chicago, Illinois 60606
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