We’ve Moved! 6121 Excelsior Blvd. St. Louis Park, MN 55416

Joe Lucey

Secured Retirement Insights 8/9 – 8/13

Navigating the Open Seas

As any sailor will tell you when setting sail across the open seas, your experience in arriving at your destination is dependent upon the water conditions, the weather, and perhaps of most importance, the skill of the captain and crew.  Investing and financial planning can be comparable to sailing – ultimately arriving at your destination is contingent upon market conditions and the expertise of those helping navigate your journey.

Like a sailboat, stock markets benefit from a strong tailwind which they did not necessarily receive this past week as second-quarter earnings reports continued in earnest.  Earnings growth is on track for the best performance since the fourth quarter of 2009, when the economy was amidst the recovery from the Great Recession, however, reactions to strong results were somewhat muted as the market seems to expect big earnings beats stemming from outsized estimate cuts during the pandemic.

Setbacks in certain individual stocks were again a reminder of the importance of diversification as there were enough positive reactions to earnings and economic releases that the major indices were able to provide small gains for the week.  While larger gains would be preferred, investors should be content with steady gains in the market that move them closer to their goals. This is reminiscent of a captain’s command to the ship’s helmsman to keep the current course, “Steady as she goes…”

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

The key economic releases last week were primarily employment-related, providing clues on the strength of the post-pandemic recovery since economies are predicated upon the strength of the workforce.  Nonfarm payrolls came in stronger than expected and the unemployment rate dropped, indicating the recovery remains intact and may be continuing to accelerate.  Also of note was the labor force participation rate slightly increased, reflecting more people being active participants in the workforce.  Bloomberg reported a record high 49% of small businesses had job openings in July, providing further evidence that those who want to work should be able to.    

Labor shortages and supply chain constraints leading to input price pressures are holding back the potential of the recovery and a return to normalization.  These conditions should continue to improve in the coming months, helping provide a further boost to growth.  We continue to monitor the strength of the recovery and sustained economic expansion, incorporating findings into our investment management process. 

Looking Ahead

The pace of earnings reports will be slowing since over 90% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings and greater attention will be given to economic releases over the next couple of months.  There is still the potential for surprises to impact individual stock prices for those companies yet to report earnings.  On the economic front, the focus this week will be on inflation with Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) numbers being released which will provide further clues regarding the inflation situation and whether it is transitory or more sustained. 

Escalating concern about the spread of the Delta variant and the implications it might have in the coming months is beginning to weigh on the markets.  Given reopening momentum from high vaccination rates in the most vulnerable segments, higher natural immunity, and the reluctance of state and local governments to impose new restrictions, at this point the potential impact does seem limited.  However, anxiety regarding further spread of the virus and the fear of restrictions could be a drag on consumer sentiment and spending, especially in the short term. 

We continue our work of keeping abreast of market and economic conditions and positioning portfolios accordingly.  It is said the wind and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator; let us be the skilled navigator who helps you arrive at your financial destination. 

Have a wonderful week!

Nathan Zeller, CFA, CFP®

Chief Investment Strategist

Secured Retirement nzeller@securedretirements.com

Please contact us if you would like to review your individual financial plan or learn how the TaxSmart™ Retirement Program can help you.   

Office phone # (952) 460-3260

Secured Retirement Insights 8/2 – 8/6

Duck, Duck, Grey Duck

When a duck is floating across a pond or lake it appears to be relaxed and at ease, but what we don’t see is the amount of work being done underwater as they frantically paddle their feet to move.  The stock market last week was very similar – from a high level, it did not appear to do much despite there being many events happening below the surface.  This was arguably one of the busiest weeks of the quarter with several high-profile companies reporting earnings, a relatively large volume of important economic releases, and a Federal Reserve meeting.  Throw in renewed coronavirus worries due to the spread of the Delta variant and we would have expected some July fireworks, which did not come to fruition.  Maybe the market hit the summer doldrums a little early or maybe the market simply has fatigue from the volatility over the past 18 months and simply decided to take it easy.  Regardless, July is now in the books and provided the sixth straight month of positive stock market returns. 

While a lack of volatility for the overall market may be easily apparent, that was not the case for some of the individual names.  Many large companies, including tech bellwethers, reported decent earnings, but their stock prices reacted differently with some moving sharply higher while others sold off.  If these companies all reported solid earnings that beat analyst’s expectations why did some of the stock prices drop?  In most cases, forward guidance was not as strong as expected. The stock market is a leading indicator based upon future expectations with individual stock prices reflecting anticipated earnings or growth prospects. If those expectations are lowered, the price of a stock will drop.  Conversely, we generally see the opposite when forward guidance is raised – stock prices rise.  The past week was a good reminder of why it is important to have a diversified portfolio since individual stock prices can be unpredictable and often move in different directions. 

GDP Growth, Consumer Confidence, and Inflation

There was a flurry of economic releases over the past week, all of which had the potential to move the market, but none seemed to have had much of an impact. This is understandable given how the releases were overshadowed by the volume of earnings releases and focus on the Fed meeting, which as predicted was anti-climactic.  Of note was Q2 GDP came in below consensus estimates but still indicated some of the strongest quarterly growth in decades and provides evidence to the fact the post-pandemic economic recovery remains intact. Consumer Confidence and the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index both beat expectations, indicating consumers continue to feel good about the economy and consumer spending can be expected to remain strong. 

Also of note is the core personal consumption expenditures (Core PCE) index, which happens to be the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, experienced the largest increase since June 1991 and further signals rising inflation. This is a key theme we continue to monitor and are positioning portfolios accordingly to not only shield against inflation but also take advantage of it. 

Looking Ahead

With a high volume of earnings reports and economic releases continuing in earnest, we expect the potential for some market volatility during the next week.  We will be paying special attention to the employment reports, culminating with Non-Farm Payrolls on Friday, to gauge the continuing strength of the post-COVID recovery. 

Like a duck swiftly padding underwater but appearing calm above the surface, we continue our tireless work of keeping abreast of the markets and managing portfolios accordingly to navigate risks and capitalize on opportunities.   

Have a wonderful week!

Nathan Zeller, CFA, CFP®

Chief Investment Strategist

Secured Retirement


Secured Retirements Insights 7/26-7/30

What a difference a day makes

I grew up in South Dakota, where they have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather, stick around for 24 hours.”  It seems the same can be said about the stock market.  On Monday, the markets suffered the worst single-day losses of the year due to concerns about rising coronavirus cases from the spread of the Delta variant and the potential for restrictions being re-imposed.  Given the strong gains in the market already this year, many analysts (a.k.a. talking heads/fear mongers) have been sounding the alarm about a pull-back. Hence, there was worry Monday’s losses were the beginning of a longer-term downward trend.  Fortunately, these fears were soon quashed as the markets quickly recovered losses and went on to show gains by the end of the week.  Besides shrugging off concerns about coronavirus, the market was driven higher by strong earnings reports, especially from Dow components IBM, Coca-Cola, and Johnson and Johnson. 

Those who did not keep a daily eye on the market last week would have thought the market simply enjoyed a march upward.  Monday’s sell-off saw the S&P 500 experience a 2% single-day loss, but by Friday, the S&P 500 was higher by almost 2% compared to a week ago.  This is a great example of why investors should not be concerned with day-to-day, or even week-to-week, market gyrations but instead should stay focused on the longer term. 

Many people remain on edge regarding another round of coronavirus cases spreading, specifically the potential for restrictions being re-imposed.  My prediction is these concerns abate as time passes, especially as more people are vaccinated.  Also, it seems the majority of people in the U.S. and most developed countries have “COVID fatigue,” so any large-scale restrictions would be met with resistance and, in most cases, would not be politically popular.  Coronavirus will become less, and less of a factor on the market – similar to when you throw a rock in a lake, the first splash is the biggest but the farther away you get, the smaller the ripples. 


It was a relatively quiet week for economic releases, with the exception being housing data.  The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, and the number of building permits all came in below expectations while Housing Starts were above expectations.  There is no doubt the housing market may be a little “over-heated” and due for a slow-down but should be more of a leveling-off versus a crash like we experienced in 2007/2008 since conditions are different this time, namely tighter lending standards, lower interest rates and a growing demographic of people looking to purchase a home.  The recent housing craze has been driven by an increase in demand since workers are not as geographically constrained due to the ability to work-from-home and supply-chain issues with raw materials due to COVID-related shutdowns.  The supply chain issues are being worked out with raw materials prices normalizing, but labor costs remain a concern. 

Looking Ahead

The next week will be busy on the earnings front with tech leaders Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), and Amazon set to report.  Any downside earnings surprise could have an adverse impact on the market, but that seems unlikely since all have historically provided strong, consistent earnings, which does not seem likely to change in the near term.  It is also a heavy week for key economic releases, including Durable Orders, Consumer Confidence, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), any of which have the potential to move the markets if there is a large variance from expectations.  PCE is the Federal Reserve’s primary measure of inflation, so there could be special attention paid to that number, not necessarily by the financial news outlets but more so by economists and analysts.  Speaking of the Fed, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets on Tuesday and Wednesday, but we do not expect any surprises since they generally telegraph expectations well in advance.

That will bring us to the end of July. Historically, August has been a relatively quiet month in the markets, gearing up for what have traditionally been the more volatile months of September and October.  We will have to see if this year brings more of the same. 

Have a wonderful week!

Nathan Zeller, CFA, CFP®

Chief Investment Strategist

Secured Retirement


Secured Retirement Cookbook

Secured Retirement wants your recipes. We have all learned from 2020 that celebrations, family meals, and the freedom to share bread with friends are important aspects of our American way that we all cherish.

We have learned many of you are great cooks and bakers, and we want to share your skills with the entire Secured Retirement family by compiling a cookbook with favorite recipes. All recipes are welcomed from your quick and easy dinner ideas to Mom’s famous hotdish casserole, your aunt’s killer dessert bars, or potluck dishes you love to share over the holidays or at the family reunion.

So make sure to submit your favorite recipes as soon as possible to send all our client families a cookbook this holiday season.

You can share between 1-5 recipes to be included in our inaugural edition, and make sure to include that “super-secret” recipe that you are most famous for.

Your submission is easy and much appreciated. Please take a picture, make a copy, or which recipe can be emailed, faxed, mailed, or dropped off at our office.





Mail or In-Person:

6121 Excelsior Blvd.

St. Louis Park, MN  55416

Secured Retirement Lunch & Learn’s are Returning, July 26th

Lunch & learns are back at Secured Retirement. Would you please stop by and see our new location and classroom?  Exciting news, we can now Livestream the event if you are unable to make it in person.
We are pleased to announce that our presenter will be our own Chief Investment Strategist, Nathan Zeller, CFA®, CFP®.  Get the latest market updates and hear first-hand Nathan’s investment philosophy on how he will be managing funds exclusively for clients of Secured Retirement.
Nathan Zeller comes to Secured Retirement with decades of experience managing funds at some of the largest financial institutions in the country.  His areas of expertise include portfolio management, asset allocation, security analysis, manager selection, and due diligence. This timely update will cover how we are currently positioning portfolios for growth while managing volatility.  We will discuss risks in the markets, including how this could impact your investments and our thoughts on capitalizing on opportunities. Those who choose to attend our Lunch & Learn event in person will begin at 12PM at our St. Louis Park location.  Lunch will be served at this free event.  You can also choose to watch via Livestream.

Hear our investment outlook and learn more about Secured Retirement’s investment strategies on Monday, July 26.  Make sure to save your seat.  Call now to register at (952) 460-3260.

Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Nathan Zeller and see the new Secured Retirement Classroom!

To view the Livestream, please Click Here.

Joe Lucey, CFP® of Secured Retirement, accepted into Forbes Business Council

Minneapolis, June 23, 2021 — Joe Lucey, CEO of Secured Retirement, has been accepted into the Forbes Business Council, the foremost growth and networking organization for successful business owners and leaders worldwide.

Joe Lucey was vetted and selected by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of his experience. Criteria for acceptance include a track record of successfully impacting business growth metrics and personal and professional achievements and honors.

“We are honored to welcome Joe Lucey into the community,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Business Council. “Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”

As an accepted member of the Council, Joe Lucey has access to various exclusive opportunities designed to help him reach peak professional influence. He will connect and collaborate with other respected local leaders in a private forum and at members-only events. Joe will also be invited to work with a professional editorial team to share his expert insights in original business articles on Forbes.com and contribute to published Q&A panels alongside other experts.

Finally, Joe Lucey, CFP®, will benefit from exclusive access to vetted business service partners, membership-branded marketing collateral, and the high-touch support of the Forbes Councils member concierge team.

“I’m excited to join the Forbes Business Council and honored to be recognized and invited into this growing community.”


Forbes Councils is a collective of invitation-only communities created in partnership with Forbes and the expert community builders who founded Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). In Forbes Councils, exceptional business owners and leaders come together with the people and resources that can help them thrive.

To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit forbescouncils.com.

Danielle Christensen


Danielle is dedicated to serving clients to achieve their retirement goals. As a Paraplanner, Danielle helps the advisors with the administrative side of preparing and documenting meetings. She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict, with a degree in Business Administration and began working with Secured Retirement in May of 2023.

Danielle is a lifelong Minnesotan and currently resides in Farmington with her boyfriend and their senior rescue pittie/American Bulldog mix, Tukka.  In her free time, Danielle enjoys attending concerts and traveling. She is also an avid fan of the Minnesota Wild and loves to be at as many games as possible during the season!