"> Virtual Vigilance [Webinar] - Argent Bridge Advisors - Online Divorce Workshop

Virtual Vigilance [Webinar]

As technology gets more sophisticated, so do scammers who leverage it for monetary gains or to get access to personal information such as social security numbers and bank account information. And here's a scary fact: nationally, 11% of adults (more than 25 million) were victims of some sort of scam during a one-year study period according to the Federal Trade Commission. We were joined by Melissa Smarr, MPA, CPM, and Code Specialist for the Fairfax County Government who shared her insights on common frauds and scams and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from falling into traps.



Melissa Smarr

MPA, CPM, and Code Specialist for the Fairfax County Government

Cecile Hult

As a Partner and Private Wealth Advisor at Argent Bridge Advisors, Cecile Hult, CFP®, CDFA®, has helped hundreds of individuals and families create roadmaps leading to personal and financial success.

Contact Melissa

(555) 555-5555


Related Resources

Charles Schwab: How to Handle Fraud or Identity Theft
Forbes Advisor: Pros and Cons of Freezing Your Credit
AARP: Databases Can Help Spot ID Fraud
Investopedia: Top Three Credit Bureaus (How They Work)
Access free credit reports through Annual Credit Report.com weekly for free through TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian through April 2022.
Where to file a complaint (Federal Trade Commission)
Where to report identity theft (Federal Trade Commission)
Where to file a complaint if you have been the victim of an Internet crime (FBI)
To put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry with the Federal Trade Commission.
Go to www.donotcall.gov  or call (888) 382-1222

[Market Recap] Cup of Joe: April 2024 Market Update


Markets in April

  • March saw stock markets rise again with the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA indexes all closing Q1 at or near all-time highs. But there’s a lot going on underneath the surface.
  • A lot of economists and strategists have been predicting a slowdown in the US economy, instead it’s almost been the opposite of that. Many data points are coming in showing the US economy continues to be strong and resilient; at the same time the Fed is saying they will not cut interest rates before they are convinced of the inflation data.
  • This tug of war is causing persistent volatility week to week. And this past week, the S&P 500 had back to back days of 1% moves in opposite directions.
  • Nowadays the stock market is reacting to every little thing. The best thing to do is buckle your seatbelt and be patient. And in today’s stock market turbulence can come from a myriad of places. But as we’re seeing this year, even through pockets of volatility, the market will rise on positive news. And the labor market, US consumer, and economy at large have all remained unexpectedly strong.
  • Keep in mind that this stuff is impossible to predict. The market is sensitive right now and we think simply knowing that can help you stick to your investment plan, by not overreacting when the market over reacts.
  • Investing is hard, due in equal parts to 1) not knowing what’s going to happen, and 2) having to live with the uncertainty. Too many bad investment moves are made when an investor can’t calmly handle an emotional response to short term volatility and instead remain patient. And all volatility is short term.
  • So as the Macro landscape continues to change, if the market remains choppy, which we think it will, remain patient and confident. These environments typically present very good opportunities for active stock strategies and provide us good opportunities for rebalancing.


Joe Gallemore, CIMA®, Partner
Director of Investment Management


[Market Recap] Cup of Joe: March 2024 Market Update




The connection between stocks & interest rates.

  • Stocks have an inverse relationship with interest rates. When rates are rising, that is seen as a headwind for stock appreciation.  And the opposite is true, when rates are falling that is typically good for stock prices.
  • Further, interest rates almost always move in cycles. They trend one way and then trend the other way, like a pendulum.  They don’t alternate in rapid succession.
  • Now that rates have stopped moving the “bad” direction for stocks, and we’re waiting for them to start moving in the “good” direction, in our opinion there’s really only one thing that a long-term investor should be focused on, methodically moving cash or safety assets back into equities.
  • Also, when interest rates are cut, not only is that a tailwind for stocks, but what happens to the savings rates on your cash? Those go down, too. So when probability tells you stocks should go up and savings rates should go down, what seems like the smart move?

We saw this relationship play out in the markets in February. Anticipation of the Fed’s first rate cut encouraged money to go back into risk assets.

  • US stocks, small, mid and large alike, were up about 5% in the month. And Emerging Markets were also up almost 5% as well.
  • The boost in stocks, however, seemed to be at the expense of bonds, which dipped about -1.4% in February. However, with many bonds and bond funds still yielding over 4% and the expectation of multiple interest rate cutes this year, the return outlook for bonds is positive.

 Highlighting a couple of law changes in 2024:

  • Gift Exclusion Limit was raised from $17,000 to $18,000. This means you can gift $18,000 of cash or securities to someone without reducing the amount you can pass along tax-free in your Estate.
  • The contribution limits on all kinds of Retirement plans also went up this year. The most widely used would be accounts like 401Ks & 403Bs (this includes Thrift Savings Plans).  The contribution limit on these went up to $23,000 for 2024.  Other types of accounts such as Regular & Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs all had contribution limits go up this year.  As did the catch-up contribution amount you folks over 50.  So be sure to ask your advisor or tax preparer if you can take advantage of these increases.


Joe Gallemore, CIMA®, Partner
Director of Investment Management