Public Trust Advisors Blog

An Insider's Perspective on Public Trust Advisors, LLC

Posted on Wed, Sep 13, 2017

We are pleased to feature a Q&A interview by Emmie Madison, Content Writer for Public Trust Advisors, LLC (Public Trust), with Portfolio Managers Neil Waud and Randy Palomba. We discussed their experience, the economic landscape, and managing local government funds.

Neil Randy Blog.pngQ: How long have you been with Public Trust, and overall how long have you been managing portfolios?

Neil Waud: I have been with Public Trust since the very beginning, and I have been investing cash since 2000.

Randy Palomba: I’m also fortunate enough to have been with Public Trust since inception, and I’ve been investing cash in the public sector for over 30 years now. Time flies!

Q: You’ve been working together for a while now, right? How long? What’s the team like?

Neil: Randy and I have worked together since July of 1995. For the past twenty plus years, Randy has been a mentor for me, always willing to share his thoughts and observations while helping me hone my craft. As the Public Trust team continues to grow, Randy’s guidance has fostered a culture that shares institutional knowledge while encouraging new ideas. By design, our trading desk is a lively environment where the team openly debates our investment strategy as we discuss the prudent management of our clients’ investable funds.

Randy: Neil and I have been working together for over twenty years if I remember correctly. We both started in Client Service roles and progressed to Portfolio Managers. We have a solid team that allows us to share ideas and execute trades that are the best ones for the clients we serve.

Q: You both are CFA® charterholders, so what does that mean?  Who else on your team is a current CFA® charterholder?

Neil: The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential is offered to investment professionals through the CFA Institute. To earn the CFA credential, candidates must demonstrate a firm grasp of portfolio management, various investment tools, and the ethical standards required as a professional. To become a CFA charterholder, you must pass three levels of exams that rigorously test your investment related knowledge. Once earned, you are encouraged to continue your professional development while holding yourself to the highest ethical standards.Neil Quote Blog.png

Randy: To build on what Neil said, Public Trust encourages everyone on the team to go through the program. We have three members of the team that have completed the requirements for CFA designation and have an additional four members of the team currently enrolled in the program working toward their designation.

Q: What is your overall strategy on investing on behalf of governmental entities?

Neil: The safety of public funds is always the primary objective when developing our investment strategy. An emphasis on high quality securities, diversification, and the minimization of volatility helps ensure our clients’ portfolios maintain an appropriate balance of safety and liquidity throughout market cycles.

Randy: Safety! Safety of principal and liquidity of funds. These are taxpayer dollars we are investing. It is extremely important to ensure these funds are invested safely and in compliance with governing legislation as well as the clients’ investment policies.

Q: Do you have anything you want Public Trust clients to know about how their investments are being managed?

Neil: Prudent investment management mandates a thorough credit analysis of the counterparties we lend to and strict adherence to our clients’ liquidity needs. Having met these requirements, we then focus on maximizing investment returns. While we work in a competitive landscape, at the end of the day we need to be mindful of the old axiom: “it is the return of your principal not the return on your principal that matters most to our Participants.”

Randy: I’m proud of the team we have assembled and the comradery we have in doing the best job we can for our clients. It’s a real team effort with everyone working together to produce a superior product for our clients.

Q: We’ve seen some changes in the market this past year. What is your take on the current market?

Neil: Since the November election, we have seen a shift in market sentiment. The initial optimism of deregulation, tax reform, and fiscal stimulus in Washington driving growth and inflation metrics higher has given way to the reality of a polarized political process that will take some time to unravel. For the past eight years, the U.S. economy has experienced relatively steady but unspectacular growth. While sufficient enough to tighten the labor market to pre-crisis levels, the growth has not translated into rising inflation. While the stock market continues to press towards new highs, inflation will likely need to rise for interest rates to push higher.

Randy: I’m happy to see the Federal Reserve begin to raise interest rates. I’m not convinced that the Fed will be as aggressive as its dot plot suggests. I’ve been doing this long enough to see interest rates go from double digits in the 1980s to practically zero for most of the last ten years. I hope we can see interest rates at levels that make sense for the earnings to once again become a budget item for local governments. The earnings on excess cash can be important to providing additional resources for governmental entities ultimately benefiting the taxpayers.


Q: So, what are your expectations for the next Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in September?

Neil: The July FOMC meeting didn’t really tip its hand regarding another rate hike this year simply noting that inflation was still below its 2% target rate. However, the post-meeting statement did say the normalization of its balance sheet will begin “relatively” soon. I agree with most, interpreting this to mean that the Fed’s longer-term holdings will be addressed at the September meeting. As far as the next rate hike is concerned, inflation will likely need to rise for this to occur this year. If it happens at all, the December meeting makes the most sense at this point.

Randy: I believe the FOMC will announce the start of the balance sheet normalization process. I also think that it will keep the Fed funds target rate unchanged until we see some indication that inflation is heading back toward 2%. The FOMC has accomplished one objective by raising rates from the nearly zero level we experienced for several years. I’m not convinced the U.S. economy is ready for a two-year Treasury yielding 5%. However, I know that finance managers and savers would welcome that investment return.

Q: Anything else you’d like Public Trust clients to know?

Neil: I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of Public Trust and encourage Participants to reach out to the Portfolio Management Team with any questions you may have regarding the program. Having placed your trust in us, we want to always be available for you.

Randy: I have had a great career working with some very talented individuals in the public sector. I look forward to continuing to work hard with those individuals as well as the opportunity to work with some of the younger folks that are now entering the public sector. I’m thankful for all the great people I have met and have had the pleasure to work with over the years.

 

 

 

Any financial and/or investment decision should be made only after considerable research, consideration, and involvement with an experienced professional engaged for the specific purpose. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. Any financial and/or investment decision may incur losses.

Tags: Local Government Investment Pools, Portfolio Management, FOMC, investment advisor, local government investment pool administration, Investing Public Funds, Managing Public Funds, Public Funds Investment, Public Trust Advisors

The Down and Dirty of Cash Flow Analysis

Posted on Thu, Jun 22, 2017

Cash flow.jpg

Cash flow analysis, also known as cash flow forecasting, is an estimate of receipts and disbursements during a given period. When executed properly, it can lead to the optimization of investment choices while insuring liquidity needs are properly met. As experienced professionals in this area, Public Trust Advisors, LLC (Public Trust) is here for you and happy to help set you on a better course for your short-term investment needs via a well-thought-out cash flow analysis.

Below are some key points and recommendations regarding the creation of an optimized cash flow analysis model for your organization.

  • Managing liquidity is a simple but important function. It is important to make sure invested funds are properly managed.
  • Cash flow analysis and liquidity management are different but work well together.
    • Cash flow analysis serves as the basis for proper liquidity.
  • When creating a cash flow analysis model, ask yourself the following questions:
    • How much cash is available?
    • When will it become available?
    • How long will it be available?
  • The best format for you will depend on the size of your organization, the volume, and the complexity of transactions.
  • One of the most popular types is the annual forecast.
    • Others include monthly and weekly forecasts and project-based forecasts.

For more detail, please reference the Government Finance Review’s article “Liquidity Management Made Easy.” Finally, Government Finance Officers Association recommends the following six steps for a cash flow analysis. These steps are shortened for length, but you can read the full version here.

  • Create a pooled portfolio of operating funds across all funds excluding unspent bond proceeds.
  • Consider historical information and projected financial activity.
  • Compare cash flow results with projections and determine reasons for differences.
  • Make conservative assumptions on analysis and update them regularly.
  • Monitor cash positions daily to ensure sufficient liquidity.
  • Use an appropriate tool for conducting a cash flow analysis.

If you have any questions, please click here to contact a Public Trust investment professional in your area!


All comments and discussions presented are purely based on opinion and assumptions, not fact. These assumptions may or may not be correct based on foreseen and unforeseen events. The information above is not a recommendation to buy, sell, implement, or change any securities or investment strategy, function, or process. Any financial and/or investment decision should be made only after considerable research, consideration, and involvement with an experienced professional engaged for the specific purpose. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. Any financial and/or investment decision may incur losses.

Tags: Cash Flow Analysis, Safety and Liquidty, Investing Public Funds, Local Government Investment Pools, Public Funds Investment, Managing Public Funds, GFOA, Public Trust Advisors, investment managment for the public sector

What's the Latest in Local Government Investment Pools?

Posted on Tue, Nov 03, 2015

By Greg Wright, President and Matthew Starr, Vice President 

Change is constant in the local government investment pool (LGIP) space, here are some of the recent topics being discussed at Public Trust.

Still All about the Fed?

Were you amongst the optimists who thought the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) would make their interest rate move back in March?  If so, then surely you became convinced it was coming in September. Let down twice (or more) by our central bankers, now you are not sure when, or if, an interest rate increase will ever happen. We get it, budget planning is tough enough without the uncertainty surrounding interest rates and when the Fed might execute a 25 basis point increase in the fed funds target rate. Need more guidance?  Let us help, here is the latest Dot Plot in advance of the October 25th FOMC meeting. For a refresher on how to interpret, revisit our blog post from May 2015.

Source: Bloomberg

Public Trust Managed LGIP Rates are on the Rise!

Want some good news? We have some for you, LGIP rates have been increasing. Granted not at a 50-100 annualized basis points clip, but incrementally to the point some LGIP rates are starting to approach 2010 levels again. However, while interest rates are creeping up, these returns are nowhere near the pre-Great Recession yields, for that to happen, we need the FOMC to re-set the target rate.

In addition to the anticipated FOMC rate hike, there are also a number of other factors that impact LGIP rates:

  • Portfolio management style and approach
  • Investment policies
  • Management fees

In our opinion, another key element that promotes higher yields is Public Trust’s ability to operate with greater efficiency and maintain lower operating costs without sacrificing service (or safety). For more information on Public Trust’s approach to LGIP operational efficiency, read a recent white paper. These savings allow us to maintain a competitive management fee and better yields for our LGIP Participants.

Money Market Reform, Not for LGIPs

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Money Market Reform, slated to go into effect in October 14, 2016 will largely constitute a non-factor for the LGIP space.  Remember the SEC does not have purview over local government investment pools. The vast majority of LGIPs are created and operate in accordance with state laws. True there may be similarities in structure, valuation procedures, permitted securities, reporting and oversight between SEC registered funds and LGIPs, but come next fall, LGIPs will not migrate to a floating net asset value, like prime-styled (credit exposure) SEC registered money market funds. Under the reform, government-styled (100% government securities) funds can opt out of the floating net asset value requirement.

Are local government investors that use registered money market funds ready for the accounting requirements and cash-management changes that the new rules bring? Not familiar with new SEC Money Market Rules, read more here. Just remember this, come next October, LGIPs will remain stable dollar funds.

Transparency: LGIPs Reflect Client-Base

Transparency is a cornerstone of good government. Public Trust manages LGIPs and therefore, we need to operate in a manner that serves our clients’ needs. Maybe you have not taken a moment to consider the level of reporting and transparency associated with Public Trust managed LGIPs, well we have. Here is a quick, but important summary of the transparency-related reports available to all of Public Trust’s LGIP Participants via their websites as well as the reporting platform MYACCESS:

  • Daily Rates 
  • Monthly Statements 
  • Portfolio Holdings
  • Newsletters
  • Monthly Fund Analysis 
  • Information Statements
  • Annual Report 

We at Public Trust recognize that financial transparency plays a big part in the overall safety and security of your public funds. As an investor working on behalf of your community, it is essential that you receive a high quality service which can provide you with a variety of tools to assist in your daily responsibilities.  You aren’t allowed to keep secrets from your tax-payers, so Public Trust does not keep secrets from you!

Best regards,

Your Public Trust Staff

 

The views expressed within this material constitute the perspective and judgment of Public Trust Advisors, LLC at the time of distribution and are subject to change. Nothing contained herein should be construed as investment, legal, business, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own advisors as to such matters and related matters concerning the information provided and its suitability for you. The information contained herein does not purport to contain all of the information that may be required to evaluate any investment options described herein. None of Public Trust Advisors or any of its affiliates make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, and nothing contained herein shall be relied upon as a promise or representation whether as to the past, current or future performance. No representation is made as to its accuracy or completeness. It should not be construed as an offer or to purchase/sell any investment.Past performance is not an indicator of future performance or results. Any financial and/or investment decision may incur losses.

Tags: public funds investing, public funds investor, Public Funds Investment, Local Government Investment Pools, public investor, rating agency risk, Money Market Rules, Federal Reserve, LGIP Rates, Publc Trust Managed lgip, The United States Securities Exchange Committee, The Fed, local government investment pool administration, money market funds, financial transparency, LGIP operational efficency, investment advisory services, Investing Public Funds, LGIP Administration, public trust, federal open market committee, Safety and Liquidty, Public Trust Advisors, LGIP investment solutions, SEC, FOMC

Mitigating Rating Agency Risk for LGIP Services

Posted on Mon, Aug 31, 2015

By Chris Toney, Director and Todd Alton, Vice President, Credit Research

Mitigating Rating Agency Risk for LGIP Services

Here we are, over a half-decade removed from The Great Recession, the second greatest financial calamity in our country’s history. Much has changed, and will continue to change. In our opinion, the fall-out will continue to reverberate for years to come, just as the Great Depression defined a prior generation’s financial regulation, e.g., the Securities Act of 1933, the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Investment Company Act of 1940. To our frequent readers, you may recall that we at Public Trust Advisors have recently written of both the intended and unintended impacts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, this generation’s hallmark financial regulation affecting the financial services industry and public funds investing.      

One of the least discussed aspects of both Dodd-Frank and the credit crisis are the impacts made to the Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSRO). Post-recession, the NRSROs are now held to a higher standard and their reputations are under more scrutiny than ever before. In our opinion, these events have led the NRSROs to err on the side of caution, resulting in a far greater number of negative outlooks and ratings downgrades for corporations and governments alike.

Public trust advisors, LGIP, LGIP management, seperatly managed accounts

The Public Trust Advisors Perspective

Currently, Public Trust Advisors manages a number of local government investment pool (LGIP) portfolios which are rated AAAm by Standard & Poor’s and in order to maintain these ratings the portfolios must contain securities rated in the highest rating categories by Standard & Poor’s. Essential to maintaining the AAAm ratings, Public Trust Advisors in our role as Investment Advisor, is keenly aware of this situation and vigilant toward any possible negative rating actions.

For Public Trust, the greatest concern is not the default of a credit in the portfolio. The greatest concern is rating agency or NRSRO risk. So what is “rating agency risk?” Rating agency risk is the risk that an issuer is suddenly downgraded by one of the NRSROs to a level below the highest rating category. This scenario could force portfolio management to sell a security at an inopportune time when the pricing of the security would most likely be negatively impacted due to a rating agency downgrade.

LGIP Management, LGIP services, Public trust advisors, seperately managed accounts

Monitoring Change; Avoiding Downgrades

To avoid possible downgrade scenarios, the Public Trust credit team is diligent with regards to headlines and market signals related to the approved issuers for its portfolios. Daily monitoring through Bloomberg provides any rating change, including negative outlooks or watches that portend possible downgrades.

For example, in recent years several “pillar banks” (global money center banks) have enjoyed the highest credit ratings (A-1+ short-term ratings), due largely to their ability to avoid many of the pitfalls during the global financial crisis. In our opinion, some of their success can be attributed to heavy reliance on commodity based economies, specifically energy, oil and mining, since these industries experienced growth and price appreciation while other industries, such as the mortgage market were facing decline.

In light of the recent collapse of commodity prices (namely crude oil) the rating agency opinions of these pillar banks with commodity exposure are evolving toward a more negative stance. The commodity-driven economies (e.g. Australia, Canada) are inevitably going to slow and the rating agencies are now more concerned about systemic support or lack thereof for the pillar banks.

As we monitor and contemplate these changes, the Public Trust credit and portfolio management teams have reduced our exposures to the pillar banks in order to mitigate the ratings agency risk associated with any potential downgrades. This involves reducing the hold times (hold codes) of these banks and performing higher due diligence around the sectors, and issues for each bank.

Whether it be an individual security or issuer, or ever-changing economic cycles, our foremost concern and commitment is focused on safeguarding the principal of the LGIP Participants by applying a higher standard of care through all of our actions.

                                                                                               

To download our most recent whitepaper, please click below. 

   Public Funding, Investing public funds, LGIP, local government investing pools
  

Tags: public funds investing, public funds investor, Public Funds Investment, Local Government Investment Pools, public investor, rating agency risk, Investing Public Funds, LGIP Administration

Short-term Interest Rates: The Dot Plot Explained

Posted on Wed, May 27, 2015

By Joe Carroll, Vice President, Sales and Marketing

 

Short-term Interest Rates: The Dot Plot Explained

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is a twelve member committee consisting of members of the Federal Reserve Board and regional Reserve Bank presidents. The FOMC has eight regularly scheduled meetings throughout the year to discuss and assess economic and financial conditions, monetary policy, and risks to its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth.

One aspect of these meetings which garners a lot of attention is the dot plot. The dot plot is a visual representation of where each member of the FOMC thinks the federal funds rate should be at the end of each of the next three years and into the future (long run). While the dot plot is not an official tool of the FOMC, it does provide some insight as to what various members of the FOMC are thinking in regards to the federal funds rate.

Here is a picture of the March 18th FOMC meeting dot plot chart.

Dot Plot Blog 1

Each dot represents where individual members of the FOMC think the federal funds rate should be at the end of the year given current economic information. As seen above, the views on where the federal funds rate will be in the future varies quite a bit within the FOMC. For example, in 2016 the majority of the FOMC believes that the federal funds rate should be between 1.5% and 2.0%. There are a few members who think the rate should be much higher or lower than the consensus at the end of 2016.

Further examination of the dot plot provides even more insight into the thought process of the FOMC. The chart below shows the past three dot plot assessments along with the respective Fed Funds Futures contracts. The Fed Funds Futures contracts (seen in red) represent how the market is pricing the federal funds rate in the future. Noticeably, the market is not quite as optimistic as the FOMC. In addition to lower market expectations of the federal funds rate, it is clear that all the members of the FOMC have reduced their outlook for future interest rate levels.

Dot Plot Blog 2

The dot plot can be an insightful and useful tool when examining the federal funds rate and future projections. With recent changes in the FOMC language, we are expecting an increase in the federal funds rate sometime in 2015. Short-term interest rates have been at record lows for years. An increase in interest rates, and therefore interest income can mean a significant change for many local governments. The time for budgeting zero interest income may be coming to an end! Be sure to keep an eye out for the next dot plot and what it means to you.

 

Charts Sourced from Bloomberg

Tags: public funds investing, investment advisor, Short-term interest rates, fixed-income asset management, yield, public funds investor, Public Funds Investment, Local Government Investment Pools, safety, Investing Public Funds, LGIP Administration

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