Category: Personal Interest


Election Reflection

The inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 20th 2009.  Unrecognizable crowds in the Washington DC Mall.

Content provided by Grant Engelbart, CFA, CAIA, CLS Portfolio Manager

It’s no secret that markets hate uncertainty. Trump presents uncertainty – and markets reacted that way overnight. S&P 500 Index futures were down nearly 5% at one point, but have come screaming back to trade positive on the day. Sound familiar? Following the surprise Brexit vote, markets reacted in similar fashion.

Why the snapback? Despite the uncertainty, Trump has made it clear that he wants fiscal stimulus. Whether through infrastructure spending or tax cuts, in general these policies are supportive of economic growth. Interestingly, one of the largest gainers on the news was copper – moving higher by nearly 4%. Copper is a classic gauge of global economic growth.

Despite the lack of historical precedent, history can give us some guidance. On average, markets have traded lower the day following a presidential election, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that we opened lower. It is commonly suggested that a Democrat in the White House is favorable for stocks, but actually, historically, a Republican in the White House with a friendly Congress has been quite strong for equities.

Regardless of your feelings on the election, keep in mind that one person does not run our country. The forethought of the checks and balances system has gotten us to where we are today. As global asset allocators, we will continue to search for opportunities in all asset classes – and there are plenty of opportunities in today’s market. There will always be something to worry about and reasons to keep money on the sidelines.



The views expressed herein are exclusively those of CLS Investments, LLC, and are not meant as investment advice and are subject to change.  Information contained herein is derived from sources we believe to be reliable, however, we do not represent that this information is complete or accurate and it should not be relied upon as such. This information is prepared for general information only.  It does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and the particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report.  Past performance is not a guide to future performance.  Investing in any security involves certain systematic risks including, but not limited to, market risk, interest-rate risk, inflation risk, and event risk.  These risks are in addition to any unsystematic risks associated with particular investment styles or strategies.




Proud Mama

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer


Dawn with her husband, Jack Batho, III.

Dawn Batho is a people person. Not only does she enjoy talking to people and forming relationships, she takes an interest in their lives and who they are. When I met her at the CLS office, she led me back to a conference room and immediately asked about me. I’m expecting my first child soon, so Batho asked how my pregnancy was going, noting my due date as well as a quick way she might remember it. Pregnant women get a lot of inquiries, but Batho’s interest struck a genuine chord.

At CLS, Batho heads the internal sales department and recently took on the service department too. She has a team of 21 people below her, and she loves working with them. She takes pride in knowing each team member on a professional and personal level, and her favorite hat in her job is that of coach. In fact, if Batho hadn’t ended up in investments, she might have been a teacher.


Dawn Batho grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Her mother taught math at the local middle school, and her father was a purchasing manager for a dairy. The two combined their skills to pass on to Batho a love and respect for teaching and a frugal sense of money management.

Batho, the second oldest of four kids, got her first job at age 12. She babysat on weekends and over the summers for the family’s dental hygienist. “That was kind of my paycheck when I was young,” she said. When she was 15, she got a job at a local McDonald’s — a lucky move as it introduced her to her future husband. They started dating then, and they’ve been together ever since.

Even in school, Batho liked being around people and talking to them. “I was always the one who was getting in trouble for socializing,” she said with a laugh. “And that really hasn’t changed. I still like to talk.” Batho played recreational basketball in middle school (at 5 feet 11 inches tall, she’s often asked whether she played), performed in the marching band and sang in the choir, and she was a drum majorette her senior year. After high school, she enrolled at the University of South Dakota where she majored in business management and minored in human resources. She wanted to keep her options broad, but she knew she was looking for a position where she could combine her business savvy and people skills.

Her first job out of college was an assistant manager at Kmart. Later, she went back to McDonald’s and took a store manager position. And a few years after that — in 1997 — her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband got a job offer at Mutual of Omaha to help prepare the company for the much-anticipated Y2K transition. At the time, Batho decided to take the opportunity to move out of retail and hospitality and went to work in Mutual’s variable annuity department.

While she was new to the world of finance, Batho quickly found her niche. “At Kmart, people came and went,” Batho said. “That was really the same with all of my prior management experience. But in this industry, we get to build relationships with advisors and clients, which is way more rewarding.”

In 2004, Batho began her career at CLS Investments. She started out as an internal wholesaler, moved up into a team lead position, and was soon promoted to Director of Inside Sales. In October, she was promoted again to lead the service department in addition to the inside sales team. In this position, Batho spends much of her time training and answering questions, but what she finds most rewarding is coaching her teams and watching her employees succeed. “When I see people getting good scores on surveys or hitting their sales goals, it’s like a ‘proud mama’ moment for me,” she said.


Dawn, Jack III, Jack IV, Jacob, and Joshua Batho.

Batho makes sure she gets to know everyone on her team, personally and professionally. She says knowing about their families, their likes, dislikes, and hobbies helps her be a better support for them. She also asks every new employee about their professional aspirations, so she can help them reach their goals. For example, she cited, Case Eichenberger initially worked under her in internal sales. But he wanted to be an external wholesaler, so Batho assigned him special projects and found opportunities for him to practice presenting. Today Eichenberger is a Client Portfolio Manager. “To see Case doing so well at what he’s doing now,” she said, “is very rewarding to me.”

When she’s not at work, Batho can be found dancing her heart out in Zumba classes or yelling at the TV watching football games with her husband and sons. She has three boys, and she gave me a quick list of details about each one: Her youngest is her class clown who she’s nicknamed ‘ham bone’; her middle son is tender-hearted and loves working with his hands; and her eldest plays college football at the South Dakota School of Mines, and so far the family’s made the drive to every home game.

That will help me remember them — the small, personal details that matter to this proud mama.



The Problem Solver

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer

Jon Trbovich is a middle child. Growing up, that mostly meant he was “the ignored one.” But being in the middle also gave Trbovich another role, and it’s one he’s assumed for life.

The problem solver.

“Yep. They always put the problems on me,” Trbovich said with a laugh. “And I always had to fix them.”

Trbovich and his two brothers grew up in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb just outside of Denver. He was active — an avid skier who spent hours outside enjoying Denver’s mountainous surrounds. His mother stayed at home raising her boys, and his father worked as an aerospace engineer, traveling frequently to Washington D.C.

“Dad grew up a very hardworking person,” Trbovich said. “He built good values for us to just get out and work.” He also instilled a lesson that stuck with Trbovich: life isn’t always fair. “He used to say all the time — I don’t treat you fair, I get you what you need,” he said. “I think that’s very relevant to life in general. Life isn’t fair, but you get what you need . . . and you make your life from that.”

Trbovich has absorbed those lessons and today approaches his life and work from a very pragmatic place. He doesn’t worry about what isn’t fair or what he can’t control. He just tries to solve the problems of what he can.

A Replaceable Commodity

In college, Trbovich majored in actuarial science. Math always came easy to him, and he jokes that he picked a degree he knew he couldn’t flunk out of, no matter how many classes he skipped. Soon, however, he decided a life behind a desk wasn’t a good fit. “I realized the financial industry worked a whole lot better for me,” he said. “I could be around clients but still work with numbers.”

Trbovich got a job at Merrill Lynch working with 401(k) plans. Later, he moved over to Charles Schwab, and in the early 2000s started working with a small company that was managing money within 401(k)s. The company took off and in 2003 was purchased by CLS. Trbovich worked hard to move up the ranks at CLS, and he focused particularly on solving problems. “Advisors would call me to get a problem solved,” he said, “and if I solved it within 24 hours, they’d become my biggest advocate.”

As Trbovich sees it, problems are opportunities to prove his worth. “Without problems, we all are just a commodity that’s replaceable,” he said. “An advisor doesn’t know how important a service rep is, or a firm is, or anything else, until there’s a problem and until we’re willing to fix the problem. Then they know how important you are.”

Trbovich is now Senior Vice President of Regional Sales at CLS. He’s based in Greenville, South Carolina and, just like his father, he’s on the road a lot. He travels the region working with financial advisors to find out what’s working for them and what’s not, and helping to solve whatever problems they have.

He still likes to be active and enjoy the outdoors, particularly with his wife and 6-year-old son, but there are no mountains to ski in South Carolina. Not one to dwell on a problem, Trbovich has taken up a new hobby: boating.

“Sometimes it’s about enjoying what you got,” he said, “not worrying about stuff you can’t control.”




Sail Away from the Safe Harbor

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer


John and his wife, Kristen.

John Welch grew up in a small, rural town in Maine where most of the industry was concentrated in logging and farming. Neither held any interest for him, and as soon as he could, he left.

More than 20 years later, he knows he made the right choice.

“Use your head, not your hands”

Eastbrook, Maine has a population of about 400 people. About 150 miles from the densely populated southern coast and just a few miles inland from the Gulf of Maine, Eastbrook is isolated but beautiful. It’s surrounded by forests of fragrant balsam firs and stretches of lakes and ponds where families go kayaking and birdwatching. As a child growing up, Welch spent hours outside exploring the acreage where his family’s farmhouse stood and the nearby woods and lakes. It gave him a sense of creativity and freedom and a connection to nature that never left him. But he always dreamed of something more. His father, who worked for the local power company, told him to remember one thing when it came to his future. “Dad always told me to use your head, not your hands to make a living,” Welch said. “That was instilled in me from a very young age.”

Always interested in numbers, Welch enrolled at the University of Maine, a small campus of fewer than 10,000 students on the banks of the Stillwater River. He majored in finance and built lifelong friendships there, but he was still looking for more. “I couldn’t wait to get out to a big city and just go, go, go,” he said.

As soon as he graduated, Welch headed back to Eastbrook. In two days, he’d packed his bags and moved to Boston. “I just wanted to figure things out,” he said, “to challenge myself and get my career going.”

It was a challenge. An expensive and competitive city, Boston had a lackluster job market at the time and sky-high rents, particularly compared to Maine. But the challenge only motivated Welch to work harder. “I just pushed myself to do more,” he said, “to outwork everyone else.”

After six months of living on a friend’s couch, Welch got a tip that financial services firm, Sun Life of Canada, was hiring. He was temping for an insurance agency at the time, and he jumped at the opportunity. He got started and over the next three years was promoted several times until he took a position at MFS Investment Management as a sales rep, one he quickly realized was a good fit. Today he’s been in sales for 20 years and is the Regional Vice President of Sales at CLS Investments where he covers 10 states in the Northeast. He’s on the road four days a week, and he loves the constant change of scenery. “It’s never boring, always exciting and changing,” he said. “I like change, I know it’s a constant, and I really thrive in that kind of environment.”


John at his home in Main.

Welch still goes home to Maine often. When he visits his family, he finds them waiting for him, financial statements at the ready for his advice and counsel. He says his father is proud of what he’s accomplished in his career and happy he took his advice so many years ago. “I’ve grown as a person,” he said. “I’m more than just this naive kid growing up in a small town in Maine.”

While he’s glad he left and got the opportunity to experience a different life, Welch says he appreciates his small town roots now more than he did growing up. A few years ago, he bought a house on a lake near his old home, and he brings his two sons there often. “It’s a special place where they get to be kids, he said. “They get to live a life of freedom.”


John with his sons Jack (age 9) and Parker (age 7).




Get Busy Living


Shari and her daughters, Olivia (5) and Lola (2)

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer

I caught up with Shari Rash when she was out buying last-minute necessities for a family trip to New Jersey. With two kids in tow, one in a stroller and the other rushing down the aisles in front of her, Rash was getting ready for a big family gathering at her parents’ shore house. “We’ve got a bunch of family flying in,” she said, holding her phone to her ear, one hand on the stroller and the other herding her 5-year-old. “It’s going to be great.”

Rash is a wholesaler based in Bel Air, Md. She works with financial advisors, helping them solve problems for investors, in a region that covers eight states. While she thrives on the constant travel and busy schedule, what really keeps her going is knowing she’s making a difference. By juggling meetings, analyzing data, and presenting solutions, Rash is helping people — one individual investor at a time.

“I wanted to be able to help”

Rash grew up in Atco, New Jersey, which is considered a suburb of Philadelphia. She went to Temple University and originally wanted to be a journalist. She liked the idea of presenting in front of people and imagined herself a television news anchor. “But I came to realize I’m a pretty black and white person,” she said. “Something either works or it doesn’t work.”

That trait eventually made her a good fit in finance, a field she’d always been interested in. Her parents had taught her the importance of healthy finances and having a plan, and she recalls reading through her father’s stock list and watching together as the prices moved up and down. But she only started thinking seriously about a financial career when she went to college, particularly after seeing the burden that rising college costs were placing on her Millenial generation. Student loan debt has soared in recent years, and Rash saw the impact of it firsthand. “It struck a chord with me,” she said. “You shouldn’t have to not go to college or feel like you have to sacrifice because of cost.”

Rash realized that financial planning would have helped many families, and she started to think seriously about finance as a career. “I wanted to be able to help people,” she said. “I wanted to help parents afford their kids’ educations, have a nest egg, and retire when they want to.” During college, she interned at Lincoln Financial and soon after graduating got acquainted with wholesaling at Prudential Annuities. That’s where she realized she could help financial advisors on a broader scale — while enjoying the busy pace of a woman on the go.

Today, Rash is Regional Vice President of Sales at CLS. Her clients are based in a broad region that stretches from North Carolina to Indiana. She’s on the road four days a week, and she loves it. “It’s not for everyone,” she said with a laugh. “But I enjoy the craziness of traveling and being in a car and waking up in a different city every day. That to me is fun.” She’s also “always on,” which is a nice throwback to her anchorwoman dreams. “Every meeting is different, every personality is different, every advisor is different,” she said. “So, it’s never the same, and that’s what I like the best about it.”

While Rash doesn’t get to work with individual investors on a daily basis, she gets satisfaction knowing she makes an impact on people’s lives behind the scenes. She recalled a recent call from an advisor, which involved a young woman who was widowed with two children. She had been left some money from her deceased husband, and her advisor called Rash to ask for help figuring out how to generate income, while still accumulating wealth. “We came up with a plan to get this woman what she needed,” Rash said. “That was really rewarding, and it’s nice to work with people that care about their clients and want what’s best for them.”

Rash said she’ll never meet the people she’s finding solutions for, but she feels good knowing they trust her to help, and even better knowing that she can. “There are solutions to a lot of problems if there’s someone there to help you,” she said. “That’s what draws me to the industry. You can help people, and they can have their problems solved.”





Jersey Roots

MikeZ and wife

Mike with his wife, Lauren.

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer

When Mike Zarren’s friends were biking through the woods or swimming in the lake at summer camp, he was inside, enjoying the air conditioning, and making money.

“I’m not a big outdoorsy guy anyway,” Zarren said in a recent interview. “I’d rather be working.”

Zarren has worked since he was 11 years old, babysitting and helping neighbors’ kids with homework. He collected baseball cards, which he traded and sold for a profit, and every school break — spring, summer, or winter — he’d work at the paper distribution company where his father worked. “I’m motivated by success,” Zarren said. “I’m in the game to win.”

Zarren grew up in the Garden State near the Jersey Shore where he says he spent time taking in the sun, eating seafood, and trying to be seen. His parents instilled a drive for independence and a passion for competing. He was fiercely competitive at school and in sports, and he credits his upbringing — both his parents and his childhood and teen years on the Jersey Shore, which gave him plenty of incentive to one-up the competition.

“I decked it out Jersey style”

Reality television is generally not where we look to find an accurate portrayal of a city or state. But, at least according to Zarren, shows like The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which depicts hyper-competitive, status-driven New Jersey women who dress to the nines in designer clothes and heavy make-up, do a pretty good job. “That’s like every family,” he said with a laugh. “Riding the Jersey Shore, it’s just like the stereotypes you see on TV. You want to be noticed.”

When Zarren was in high school, he used the money he’d saved to buy a car and fix it up just the way he wanted: a souped-up 1986 Nissan 300ZX with a brand new stereo and a neon underglow. The license plate: MIKESZX. “I decked it out Jersey style,” Zarren said. “And I miss it,” he added wistfully. “I really do miss it.”

After high school, Zarren got interested in finance when he realized his money-making skills could be enhanced by learning the ins and outs of investing. He studied finance at Towson University in Baltimore and later took a job at Rydex Investments where he served as an analyst and a relationship manager. Zarren moved from there to a director of relationship management role at Ceros Financial Services, and in 2013, a position opened at CLS. He jumped at the opportunity. “I’d met executives and leaders across NorthStar [CLS’s parent company],” Zarren said, “and when the opportunity presented itself to join the team, I couldn’t pass it up.”

Today Zarren is Director of Key Accounts at CLS. He spends much of his time on the road or on the phone working to build exposure for CLS’s wholesalers and internals and get them in front of financial advisors. A typical work week is 55-60 hours, but he’s always on call. “It’s not required,” he said, “but that’s just how I am. I want people to be able to count on me.”

One day, he swears, it’ll be time for play.

“I work a lot, and maybe that’s not a good thing,” he said, “but I’ll be able to play more when the time for play does come.” Zarren looks to his wife’s grandparents, who retired at 55, as an example. They worked and saved their whole lives, retired early, bought an RV and traveled on an extended trip through Europe. “They had more than 20 years together in retirement,” he said. “I’d like to retire one day. I want to enjoy life with my wife when our kids are established in their own lives.”

MikeZ and girls

Mike with daughters, Melanie (14 months) and Hailey (5 years)

The plan, for now, is to buy a home in San Diego or a Caribbean island where his kids can visit and soak in the sun, just like he did on the Jersey Shore beach. And maybe he’ll buy a fun sports car to cruise the seaside streets. But that’s still several years away. For now, he’ll take care of his family and stick with something reliable, and less flashy. His current ride: a Toyota Camry.

“But with aspirations of a Chevy Tahoe,” he added quickly. He paused and laughed. “Now that I have two kids, I have a family car. How times change.”




A Play in Three Acts

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer

Brian Ragle has taken a detour-driven road to get to where he is. He started out as a theater major who traveled to New York to audition for the stage. A few years later, he was deep into the savings and loan industry about to face an epic crash that would cause his life to veer in yet another direction. Today, he lives on a farm out in the Texas countryside where he raises cattle and grows farm-fresh vegetables.

Looking back, he wouldn’t change a thing.

Ragle youth

Brian in 1974, during his theater days at Baylor.

Act One: The Stage

Ragle, who grew up in Graham, Texas, attended Baylor University where he switched majors at least twice. “I was pre-law for a while, and then I wanted to be a foreign diplomat,” he said in an interview from his Texas home. “But I graduated with a degree in theater.”

After college, Ragle moved to New York and auditioned for several productions, but he said he quickly realized he would be waiting tables for a significant portion of his life if he stayed on that path. “I decided that wasn’t for me,” he said. “So, I came back and went into business with my dad.”

Ragle generations

Four generations (1981): Brian (standing, left), his father (standing, right), his grandfather (sitting, left) holding his oldest son, Travis. 

Act Two: The “Godforsaken” Savings and Loan Business

Ragle’s father ran a savings and loan business, which had been handed down from his father. When Ragle bought in, the two invested everything they had into it. It was the 1970s and business was good. But neither could foresee the looming crash that would soon throw them both off course.

Things first started to go wrong in 1980, Ragle said, when the government raised interest rates on capital borrowed by banks in an effort to combat inflation. Ragle said “all hell broke loose” particularly in states like Texas where usury laws, which limited interest rates on loans going out, were still in place. “We were immediately under water,” he said.

The crisis was worsened by speculation and widespread fraud, and it lasted through the mid-1990s, resulting in the failure of nearly one-third of all savings and loan associations around the country and a deep recession.

Ragle and his father’s books were clean, but the business went under and the stigma of the crisis was hard to shake. “It was really devastating,” Ragle recalled. “I went from flying my own airplane to chasing quarters around baseboards to send my children to school with lunch money.”

His father took the crash badly, partly because he was older and closer to retirement. But Ragle decided he wouldn’t let this beat him. “You have a fork in the road, and you can either take the high road or the low road,” he said. “I did a lot of soul searching, a lot of reading, and a lot of praying, and all that really helped. This business is sales, so if you don’t have a good attitude you’re not going to be very successful.”

Ragle’s wife went to work and started what became a successful catering company, and Ragle got licensed in financial advising. It was about 15 years before he stopped worrying about his next paycheck, but he recovered. “We managed to just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps,” he said.

Despite the difficulties, Ragle now believes the crash was the best thing that could have happened to him. “It taught me so many things,” he said. “It taught me a lot about how the government works. It taught me about personal fortitude and discipline.” The most significant lesson he took from the experience was the importance of diversification, and it motivated him to work with others to help prevent such dramatic losses. “It gave me a very keen passion for helping people save money,” he said, “to start saving money earlier in their careers, and to maintain a lot of diversification in their portfolios, so this doesn’t happen to them.”

Act Three: Finding Home

Ragle worked as a financial advisor for nearly a decade, and in 2000, he took a position with CLS. Today, he is the Senior Vice President of Regional Sales, and he spends much of his time on the road, meeting people and finding out what’s working and what’s not for financial advisors around the country. After working for himself for so many years, it might have been a difficult transition, but Ragle doesn’t see it that way. “It’s almost like being in business for myself still,” he said. “It’s just that I have a 401(k) and a nice health insurance package.” In fact, it’s a lot better. While he still works 60-80 hour weeks, Ragle can switch off when it’s time to go home. He also feels a sense of security, which helped get him through a second crash-of-a-lifetime in 2008. “I’ve built a business here that will continue no matter what the market does,” he said.

Six years ago, Ragle began another phase of his life. He and his wife bought a 160-acre farm outside his hometown of Graham where they grow wheat and raise livestock. “Cattle, chickens, and a lot of grass to mow,” he said with a laugh. His wife grows vegetables and herbs and cooks from scratch, and this is where Ragle spends his time when he’s not on the road. “We’re into raising our own food as much as we can,” he said, “trying to stay young and vital and pay attention to what we eat and what we drink. It’s kind of our hobby now.” The couple has people who manage the farm for them, but they still do a lot of work. “When we’re out here, we’re working,” Ragle said. “We’re not watching TV, I can tell you.”

Ragle still goes to the theater as often as he can (he was readying for a trip to Dallas to see a friend perform at the time of this interview), but most of the time, it’s a day’s hard work and a good, healthy meal to close it out. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We live a pretty good life out here in the country,” he said.

Ragle Family

The Ragle family.




The Importance of an Investment Philosophy (The Second P of Money Manager Due Diligence)

Business people having meeting in office building

Content provided by Rusty Vanneman, CFA, CLS Chief Investment Officer

In a recent commentary, I wrote about the “Five P’s” of the money manager’s due diligence process:

  • People
  • Philosophy
  • Process
  • Performance
  • Positioning

I followed that commentary with a more focused blog on the most important P: People.

In this commentary, I will discuss the next P: Philosophy. What is meant by an investment philosophy? In short, what does an investment manager believe about the markets and investing? About managing money? What is his or her ultimate goal? When picking managers, it’s important to understand their philosophies for several reasons, including:

  1. it will help you understand how and why they manage money the way they do
  2. it will help make sure you are comfortable with that philosophy

At CLS, our investment philosophy can be summarized this way: To help investors succeed, we believe in Risk-Budgeted, globally balanced ETF portfolios. Let’s break this statement down into more detail.

Helping Investors Succeed

Our ultimate goal is helping investors reaching their financial objectives. To accomplish that, we believe global, balanced, Risk-Budgeted ETF portfolios along with clear and consistent communication and investor education will help investors achieve success.

Risk Budgeting

At CLS, we build Risk-Budgeted portfolios. We believe for investors to reach their goals they need to assume risk and the best way to do so is to measure and manage it via Risk Budgeting. We also believe this is a better way to build balanced portfolios.

CLS uses Risk Budgeting because of three core beliefs:

  • All investors have a capacity to bear risk, and the best way to control risk is to measure it, rather than relying on a traditional stock-to-bond ratio.
  • Over the long term, investors are rewarded for bearing risk; having too little risk hurts investor returns.
  • Investment methodologies should be designed to pair a disciplined risk management system with a flexible approach to asset allocation. Doing so enables CLS’s portfolio management team put together risk-appropriate portfolios by looking at the broadest set of choices.


We are global investors, investing not just in domestic securities but also overseas. We believe diversification across domestic and international assets provides improved risk-adjusted returns over time.


We believe asset allocation — and keeping the proper balance between assets — works for investors. Investors stay in balanced portfolios longer than other portfolios and they have smaller “behavior gaps” (differences between investment returns and investor returns). Balanced portfolios offer a better experience for all parties involved.


Though CLS does manage some mutual fund portfolios, our preference is to use ETFs whenever possible. We believe ETFs provide numerous benefits for investors, including lower costs, tax efficiency, and investment precision.


In the end, empowering advisors to help investors succeed is our ultimate goal. Whether it is through sound investment management by building reliable portfolios or through investment education and counseling through our communication, we want investors to be comfortable and stay the course.

P.S. On every weekly meeting agenda, the CLS Investment Team includes this list of what we believe:

We Believe:

  • We believe our ultimate goal is to help advisors and investors reach their investment objectives. This is accomplished through our relationships, portfolios, and communication/education.
  • We believe in risk-managed portfolios (especially those that are Risk Budgeted).
  • We believe in globally diversified, balanced portfolios.
  • We believe in the power of
  • We believe in client service and communication that is accessible, honest, and educational. “Plain talk; simple talk.”
  • We believe in constant professional growth. We are always trying to improve.
  • We believe in the power of teamwork. We help each other and hold each other accountable.
  • We believe that every basis point of performance matters. We play to win.



A Man’s World

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer

Jessica Golson often finds herself the only woman at the table. A trading manager at CLS, Golson works in an industry dominated by men. So much so, that a 2014 study by recruiting firm Vettery, found a full 77.5% of first-year analysts on Wall Street were men. How women fare in investment firms nationwide is not as well documented, but the ratio of senior-level men to women is even more disproportionate across the industry.

Golson, however, has never let a boy’s club bother her.

“The only girl in the room”

Born and raised in Omaha, Golson has always enjoyed the challenge and logic of numbers. “I always liked math,” she said. “And I remember seeing tickers going across the TV screen and wanting to know what that meant someday.”

After high school, Golson enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Omaha as a business administration major. She excelled at accounting, and her teachers pushed her in that direction. “I liked accounting because I was good at it, and it was numbers,” she said, “they were all right there.” But the subject didn’t challenge her enough. “In accounting, there’s just one answer,” she said. “You can get to it a lot of different ways, but there’s still just one.”

Golson tried out a class on investing and, coincidentally, CLS Portfolio Manager Scott Kubie was her first teacher. “You could tell he knew a lot,” she recalled with a laugh. “He still likes to teach me things.” Golson remembers Kubie encouraged her to think beyond the surface and dig deeper to get the real data. She soon discovered finance was far more fascinating than straightforward calculations. “There are just so many different variables that come into play,” she said.

Golson decided to continue in finance and enrolled at Creighton University, where she was one of a handful of female students. “[The investment industry] is totally dominated by men,” she said. “But I grew up with two older brothers, so I’ve just never been intimidated by being the only girl in the room.”

JessG Bio pic

Jessica, with her brothers Eric (left) and Tim (right).

Golson credited her mother with making sure she always knew she could do anything her brothers could do. She said she’s never viewed being in the minority as a hurdle or a reason for hesitation, but she understands how it could be. “I think the biggest thing is you have to not be afraid of challenges,” she said. “Take them on and make decisions. You just have to be able to take it and get over being concerned with what people think.”

Golson earned her master’s degree in securities analysis at Creighton, and today, as the only female operations manager at CLS, she believes she offers a different perspective, and at times, a more empathetic stance. She recalls an experience that still influences her decisions. As a financial advisor — her first position after college — she counseled investors through the financial crash of 2008. She recalls one man in particular, who was her father’s age, ready to retire. His wife had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, and he’d just lost everything in his retirement savings. “He’d done everything right, saving for so long,” Golson said, “and then when it came time to do something, he couldn’t do it.” The client was crying in her office, she recalled, and that made everything she’d learned in the classroom suddenly very real. Golson keeps that experience in mind when she’s making decisions based on data, and she believes that type of empathy in this industry is crucial. “It’s really easy to just look at numbers,” she said, “but that’s someone’s actual life savings.” Golson said CLS prioritizes the individuals behind the numbers, and that’s why its role is so important.

Golson recently began assisting the Portfolio Analyst and Management Team a few hours a week. It’s a new challenge, and she’s not yet sure where it will lead her. Her original goal after college was portfolio management, but she’s intrigued by the many areas of specialty available to her. CLS, which puts a premium on diversity, is encouraging her to rise through the ranks. Whatever she decides, she won’t let being the only woman in the room stop her.

“I do care about people first and foremost,” she said. “But I’m also not afraid to stand my ground and take charge.”



The Dos and Don’ts of Saving for Retirement

a young boy looking with a chart (focus on boy's hand and pen)

Content provided by Kostya Etus, CFA, CLS Portfolio Manager

There have been numerous studies about the dismal savings rates of Americans. One recent survey* found that a third of the population has no retirement savings at all and a majority are significantly behind on their savings. Millennials are causing the most alarm as they will have fewer safety nets (such as corporate pension plans, which seem to be going the way of the Dodo) to rely on in retirement than previous generations. Gen Xers face another troublesome issue as they are frantically trying to rebuild their savings that were decimated by the Great Recession of 2008.

If you feel you may be in either camp, you are not alone. But there are some easy dos and don’ts to help get you on track and feel more reassured about your retirement.


  • Diversify. Everything in life should be diversified, but let’s start with investments. Utilize a variety of asset classes in your investment accounts (stocks, bonds, cash, etc.) for smoother returns over time with lower risk.
  • Manage tax locations. Utilize a mix of account types, such as tax-deferred (401(k)), tax-free (Roth), and taxable (standard individual) accounts because the future is uncertain, and each can be beneficial in certain scenarios.
  • Max out available employer 401(k) matching. It’s free money!
  • Save on taxes. Don’t forget contributing pre-tax dollars to your employer’s retirement plan lowers your current tax bill.
  • Utilize direct deposits. Putting away savings automatically every month takes some of the planning and worry out of the process.


  • Accumulate debt. Don’t get deep into debt, but don’t use paying off debts as an excuse to avoid saving for retirement either. You can pay off debts and save at the same time.
  • Invest in one stock. The idea is to diversify your holdings with many securities to mitigate the risk of any one position having a severe loss.
  • Cash out early. Try not to pull money out of your retirement account. First, there may be penalty fees involved, but more importantly, you are eating into your retirement livelihood. If you cannot keep your retirement account open for any reason, simply roll it over to another account.
  • Chase performance. Don’t consistently sell out of poor-performing investments and buy outperformers. Aside from increasing transaction costs, you may miss out on significant turnarounds as markets tend to be cyclical. In other words, focus on the long term.
  • Move to cash. The stock market is volatile, but historically it has recovered and often outperformed over long periods of time. You are better off staying invested and diversified. Getting scared and moving to cash may cause you to miss out on significant gains, which may make it harder to recoup losses in the future.

Now that you have had a chance to go through these brief suggestions, think about your own situation. Do you want to be eating ramen or relaxing on a beach when you retire? There is no better time than now to stay balanced, diversified, and save, save, save!