Make us your home page

Buy? Sell? Hold? Advice runs the gamut at Tampa conference of financial advisors

TAMPA — The Financial Planning Association of Tampa Bay's annual symposium couldn't have come at a more fitting time.

Stock markets around the world are fluctuating wildly. The Dow, for the first time ever, has closed up or down 400 points for four straight days. Oil has plummeted, and gold, buoyed by the "flight to safety," hit another record high.

Amid this sea of confusion, about 150 certified financial planners from throughout the area gathered at the Renaissance Hotel in International Plaza on Thursday to nosh on croissants, sip Starbucks coffee and speculate about the future. The theme of the conference seemed particularly apropos: "Planning in a World of Uncertainty: What's Real and What's Not."

The planners predictably were unified in the value of leaning on an expert financial adviser in turbulent times like this.

"This is when an active manager really earns his spurs," said Dale Van Scoyk of FBR Fund Advisors.

Any consensus on what investors should do next? Not so much.

Stay the course. Actively re-allocate your portfolio. Pull out of index funds likely to fall or run sideways for a long time. Avoid small cap financial stocks. Avoid large cap financial stocks. Embrace opportunities in health care or real estate. Go to cash.

As for David McAlvany, whose Colorado-based McAlvany Financial Group specializes in precious metals, the continued upside for gold and silver far outweighs the likelihood that stocks will improve.

McAlvany thinks the stock market rally since 2009 was just a temporary blip in a secular bear market that's persisted the last 10 years and likely to last until at least 2014.

"The idea of a double-dip recession is, in our opinion, a foregone conclusion," he said. "Technically, we're on life support now."

Local association members have been in the certified financial planning business 17-plus years on average. Suffice it to say, most of them have been through a twist or turn in the markets before, said Christine Brown, chapter executive for the FPA of Tampa Bay.

They urged investors not to panic and, especially, not to make the classic mistake of pulling out after the market has had a couple of rough days.

"It can derail a lot of people. They get out at the worst time and miss the best time," said Bobby Shanahan, regional vice president of Horizon Investments LLC in Charlotte, N.C.

It's not evident all their clients are listening.

On Monday alone, more than $1.6 billion was reportedly transferred out of the 4.7 million 401(k) accounts monitored by consultant Aon Hewitt.

Symposium chairman Fred Orr told attendees he believed the country's leaders will do what's necessary "to get our country on the right track. That's the message we need to take back to our clients."

But keynote speaker Barry Asmus of the National Center for Policy Analysis had less faith in Washington, blaming government intervention for causing the 2008 housing crisis. After all, Asmus said to applause, break down the word politics and it comes from poly, meaning many, and tics, meaning "a blood-sucking insect."

Rather, Asmus said, trust in free markets and enterprise to eventually prevail despite the country's massive debt problems. "Is this the tipping point that we're ready to fall off the cliff? No."

Twenty booths were peppered with brochures promising "A guide to market recoveries," "The Road to Income," and "Silver is Savings."

Yet, for all the preaching to investors to remain calm and rational, many financial experts were clearly captivated by the market's daily gyrations.

"Dow is up 130," Tadas Misiunas said as he clicked away on his mobile phone checking Bloomberg Business News.

How many times had he checked out the numbers while manning a booth for U.S. Global Investors that morning? "A lot," he said, adding, "Dow's up about 190 now."

Steve Athanassie, president of Trademark Capital Management in Dunedin, was likewise tethered to the markets, even though he had three people back in the home office keeping track.

He didn't want to be caught off guard like the day last year when he was out of the office during the infamous "flash crash" in which the Dow fell 900 points and then recovered most of the drop in a matter of minutes.

"What if there's another September 11?," Athanassie said. "We all want to know what's going on. Not that we can do anything about it."

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or


The Dow surged up 3.9 percent Thursday, the fourth day of wild zigzags in the markets. Analysts attributed this boost to bargain hunters seeking deals and scraps of positive economic news like an easing of layoffs. Story, 4B

Buy? Sell? Hold? Advice runs the gamut at Tampa conference of financial advisors 08/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 12, 2011 6:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a wide range of issues. He'll take over Friday.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches


    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy


    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]