Children

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Baby-tech, parent-tech, fam-tech… call it what you will. The fact of the matter is, most millennials are having children later in life than their parents, and they want more efficient, streamlined ways to care for their kids.

From extending fertility to sleeping easier with a newborn to stimulating and tracking their child’s brain development, modern parents are using technology to do things in a more data-driven way than their parents did.

When it comes to his smart sock, parents and investors alike are buying in. Owlet, founded in 2013, remains a private company with an estimated annual revenue of $31.3M per year. In total, it has received $51.6M in funding.

Consider the case of Owlet Baby Care. The Owlet smart sock is a baby monitor that uses pulse oximetry to measure and track oxygen levels and heart rate, alerting parents via wirelessly connected devices if either reading drops to an unhealthy level. One sock costs $299 before additional accessories. According to Owlet founder Kurt Workman, “Parents spend a lot of money on their children, and will spend more if you can solve problems for them.”

Technology-driven parenting tools are here to stay, presenting lots of opportunity to investors. Here’s what investors should know about the fam-tech industry.

What is Fam-Tech?

Millennials are having fewer children, starting later in life, and their parenting style is driving new technologies. 

Consider that the fertility rate for the US in 2020 was 1.779 births per woman. That’s significantly lower than in 1950 when the fertility rate was nearly double that, at 3.148. 

According to a report by the New York Times, these days, first-time moms are on average 26 years old (up from 21 in 1972) and first-time dads are 31 (up from 27 in 1972). 

Even so, across the US, the age of becoming a mom for the first time is heavily divided primarily by one factor: education. Parents who have spent their time getting an education, building a career, and growing their income have children on average seven years later than those who don’t. These slightly older, well-educated parents are better able to afford everything from preschool to, well, Owlet socks.

Being an older parent isn’t out of the norm these days, and aspiring parents aren’t worried so much about age as their ability to have a baby at some point. Notably, egg freezing increased in 2020 when dating came to a halt. By 2026, the global IVF Market size is expected to reach $36.39 billion

These new-age parents are paying for things that in 1950 during the baby boom, parents likely never imagined. 

Consider, for example, a meal subscription just for babies. Square Baby personalizes a nutrition plan for baby based on their age, dietary restrictions, and preferences, sending nutritious frozen meals every two weeks. For older children, the company Raddish Kids offers a subscription plan focused on helping kids learn to cook in the kitchen. Raddish raised its first dollars ($3,515 above its $15,000 goal) though a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign. 

Subscription services for kids are a big deal. And there are at least 22 clothing subscription services designed just for kids with parents that either a) don’t have the time or b) the interest to shop for new clothes every season for growing little ones. 

Subscription services are just one example of fam-tech at work. 

With parents so busy working, who has time to write out a baby book? Yet again, there’s an app for that. Queepsake captures moments and milestones via photos and messages on a smartphone, populating them into a book. 

Need help with bedtime for your little ones? The Hatch night light and connected app allows parents to adjust the sound from down the hall using a connected app.  The Hatch has a programmable “okay to wake” setting for young kids to help parents get a few more ZZZs. 

For older children, fam-tech has solutions for monitoring online activity, with parental controls over content and remote access to children’s online devices.

Why Invest in Fam-Tech?

Fam-tech has a huge market opportunity, with millennials looking to technology to help solve challenges associated with parenting in the modern world. 

For example, right now, a lot of families have a big problem. With more than a billion students suddenly unable to physically go to school in 2020 because of the pandemic, e-Learning became the unanticipated format of education in 2020. That means that these days, lots of parents are working alongside their kids who are schooling from home, leaving 65 percent of working parents feeling completely burnt out. 

When kids aren’t schooling and parents are playing catch-up, kids are left with more screen time than ever. That leaves parents trying to figure out which tools, apps, and tech they can direct their kids towards to help their learning and development move ahead, rather than regress. 

If 2020 has left a legacy, it’s rife with opportunities for new fam-tech solutions. And, according to the early-stage venture capital firm Initialized, we’re going to get them. From ways to get more sleep, to delaying parenting, to sourcing childcare, to tracking development, to monitoring e-learning, and more.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the February 16, 2021 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.  

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Baby Boomers

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Born between 1946 and 1964, today there are more than 71 million Baby Boomers in the U.S all between the ages of 56 and 75.

But they don’t just have numbers. Baby Boomers also hold the lion’s share of the wealth in this country compared to other generations, holding $59.6 trillion which is double the $28.5 trillion held by Generation X and more than 10 times the $5.2 trillion held by Millennials.

While a lot of marketing focuses on younger demographics, Baby Boomers are spending their money, accounting for roughly 50 percent of all Consumer Packaged Goods dollars. In 2019, for example, Baby Boomers led in pet spending. Baby Boomers also spend more at home improvement stores than any other generation. 

Beyond their spending now, however, Baby Boomers are anticipated to have healthcare needs and lifestyle preferences that will drive demand in the healthcare industry for years to come. Here’s what investors should know about the economic impact of Baby Boomers.

What Is the Baby Boomer market?

All Baby Boomers will be 65 or older by 2030. While Baby Boomers have increasingly longer life expectancies than previous generations, about 60 percent of Boomers have already been diagnosed with at least one chronic medical condition, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, hypertension and depression. These conditions typically necessitate regular doctor visits, prescription medications, and dietary restrictions. They also have the potential to result in a disability of some form.

The prevalence of chronic conditions among the Baby Boomer population translates to a need for more doctor time, more medication, and more interventions for any resulting disabilities. So, it should be no surprise that spending on health insurance, medical services, drugs and medical supplies is expected to grow as Baby Boomers age. 

According to government projections, health care spending is anticipated to grow to nearly $6 trillion by 2027. That is nearly 20 percent of the overall economy. That spending won’t all go to one place, but rather to the variety of healthcare entities and companies that support the aging Baby Boomer population. 

Why Invest in Baby Boomers?

Boomers are breaking stereotypes about aging, and that should matter to investors. 

Consider technology, for example.  While Baby Boomers tend to have a reputation for being slow to understand technology, 90 percent of Baby Boomers have a Facebook account, 67 percent of Baby Boomers own a smartphone, and the bulk of Baby Boomers also participate in some form of online shopping. 

Perhaps also surprising: more and more, Baby Boomers are moving away from cash and opting for contactless payment systems, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are Boomers adopting PayPal, they are logging on to Zoom to keep in touch with loved ones. 

They are also logging on to smart devices to talk to their doctors. 

To manage their chronic illnesses in particular, especially in the age of the pandemic, Baby Boomers are opting for telemedicine visits, which are now reimbursable by Medicare. These visits are helping Baby Boomers manage things like weight, blood pressure, and avoid trips to the ER. Telemedicine visits allow users to talk with a doctor, get prescriptions, all while reducing the chance of getting COVID-19. Telemedicine also helps reduce healthcare costs by streamlining care and preventing expensive urgent care and ER visits. 

Baby Boomers tend to be well educated, and by effectively managing their conditions, they are anticipated to experience better health for longer than they would otherwise. 

Moreover, Baby Boomers generally want to be active, meaning that most aren’t spending all of their days in a recliner. 

This is creating a demand for joint replacements, and affording medical device makers and distributers a big growth opportunity. According to one estimate, by 2030, there will be a 600 percent increase in total knee replacements in the US compared to 2005. Over that same time frame, total hip replacements are expected to increase by 200 percent. In 2017 the average age for a primary total hip replacement was 65 and the average age for a primary knee replacement was 66, according to a report by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR). 

Lastly, Baby Boomers are wanting toage in place,’ or rather choose to live at home as long as possible, rather than retire to community living. With the number of Baby Boomers aspiring to ‘age in place’ spending on home improvements and more specifically home modifications (like ramps, wider doorways, and walk-in showers) that make aging in place possible is likely to continue.

The combination of aging in place, chronic conditions, and living longer will lead to an increased need for in-home care, with more and more Baby Boomers needing help with bathing, eating, dressing and walking. While no one knows when Boomers will be back on cruise ships, we do know that future healthcare needs for the Baby Boomer population are a certainty.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the February 16, 2021 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Land

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For an open-minded investor, the idea of investing in land might bring to mind a range of dreams: a “sold” sign on a wide-open space near the mountains, an “under new ownership” notice for a busy apartment complex in an urban neighborhood, or a breaking ground on a commercial mixed-use space in an up-and-coming suburb. All are correct and more.

Land is a finite resource with many uses beyond real estate that range from farming to mining for natural resources and beyond. There is no doubt that investing in raw land gives investors options.

Although real estate markets ebb and flow, land tends to appreciate in value over time. This is no surprise given the dynamics of a limited supply, increasing demand, and a growing population. For example, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “the United States farm real estate value, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $3,160 per acre for 2019, up $60 per acre (1.9 percent) from 2018.” That’s an increase of $1,610 per acre from 2005. 

While buying land offers a broad range of investments from real estate to agriculture, investing in land isn’t a quick-solution or an endeavor to take lightly. Here’s what investors should know and consider.  

What Are Land Investments?

Overall, there are three types of real estate investments: commercial, residential, and vacant or raw land. The uses for raw land can be further broken down into categories including row crop land, livestock-raising land, timberland, mineral production land, vegetable farmland, vineyards, orchards, and recreational land. Land can also be purchased and held until appreciation. 

When it comes to land investment, things aren’t always as they seem on the surface. There are a number of different rights to be aware of, which include:  

1)  Air rights: An investor might own the land, but do they own the airspace above it? Not necessarily. Owning air rights gives the investor the right to use, rent, or develop the space above the land without interference by others. This often comes into play in commercial real estate when zoning requirements determine how many stories tall a developer can build. 

2)  Mineral rights: Mineral rights are “legal rights or ownership to the minerals below the surface of real estate, which can include coal, oil, natural gas, metals, and more.”

3)  Water rights: Water rights “are the legal rights to use water from a local source such as a river, ditch, pond, or lake.” Water rights tend to be different in the East vs the West. In Eastern states, landowners who have a waterway that moves through their property may use water in a reasonable way, not unreasonably detaining or diverting it. In Western states, water rights must be established before using any source of water. In these areas, water rights are typically sold separately from land. 

4)  Zoning: Local governments and municipalities have established rules and regulations that determine how a property may or may not be used. Properties may be zoned as residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational, historical, or aesthetic. As a developer, it’s crucial to make sure that your plans align with the zoning requirements.  

5)  Ingress and Egress: If an investment property doesn’t have direct road access to the parcel of land on which it sits, formal easements may be required. 

Simply put: when it comes to investing, not all land is created equal and research is required. 

Why Invest in Land?

Land is a dynamic investment with lots of opportunity—it can yield high returns, passive income, and large profit margins. Investors can plan to develop raw land, buy and hold, buy and lease, buy and sell with owner financing, or flip the land as it is into something entirely new. 

It’s possible to generate future income by purchasing raw land and doing minimal maintenance, (especially if you are planning to keep it vacant and let it appreciate). Investing in raw land for purposes of development, however,  “requires more patience and a penchant for long-term strategies.” 

Before investing, investors should calculate your cap rates, or an investment’s yields and potential risks. Regardless of how you plan to utilize land for returns— for farming, real estate, leasing, or other— investors should consider the trends in those markets both locally and nationally. 

Investors should also consider taxes, especially when it comes to reselling land. If an investor owns a piece of land for less than one year before selling, tax rates can be as high as 37 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Of course, for investors looking for a less direct, less expensive, and much less time intensive way to diversify into land investing, ETFs offer a range of opportunities. These include real estate ETFs or Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) and agricultural ETFs. 

REITs typically invest in “securities that are related to mortgage financing of real estate, including not only mortgage loans but also mortgage-backed securities and similar derivative investments.” REITs may focus on their property type, such as residential, retail, healthcare, self-storage, industrial, office, hotel, data center, or timber REITs. 

Moreover, REITs allow investors to get involved in real estate with smaller amounts of money than required to buy properties. If you consider that on average a home in the U.S. costs $200,000 and a commercial property can cost much more, it’s easy to understand that building a diverse real estate portfolio would be expensive. REITs, on the other hand, allow investors to buy shares of a grouping of a diverse range of properties with a share costing as low as $100.

Investing in land, particularly buying a plot of land for a specific purpose, is nothing to take lightly. While it can offer big returns, it also poses big challenges and requires extensive planning. ETFs offer another path that might be right for those interested in getting their feet wet. Either way, investing in this finite resource is likely to pay off in the long run.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the January 28, 2021  (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Human Rights

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From climate change to women’s rights to anti-discrimination, human rights issues are more pervasive corporate issues than we might think about as we pour our cereal or brush our teeth in the morning. But, whether we think about them or not, human rights issues exist.

Human rights violations don’t always happen in isolation, but often occur in tandem with other environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing factors. For example, according to an interview in GreenBiz with Lauren Compere of Boston Common Asset Management, beyond environmental degradation, deforestation is strongly correlated with human rights abuses. These issues are more prevalent than one might think in the world of corporate social responsibility programs.

According to a March 2020 report by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), major banks and brands are failing to stop deforestation and protect human rights, despite public commitments to do so. This is in large part because the fast-moving consumer goods that they make, including non-durable goods such as packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, are strongly linked to deforestation. 

These brands include big names including Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, Kao, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Nissin Foods, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever. The banks include Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Bank Negara Indonesia, CIMB, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, DBS, ABN Amro, and JPMorgan Chase. 

The report argues that these brands are complicit in deforestation and human rights abuses in their “sourcing of forest-risk commodities –– including palm oil, pulp, and paper.” (Note that in September 2020, many of these brands collectively launched the Forest Positive Coalition of Action, an initiative to end deforestation.)

How does the RAN report call for change to harmful deforestation and human rights practices? 

For one, it commends the follow through of many European and US banks and investors on their commitments not to finance companies that engage in these abuses. Investors have power to influence even the biggest business entities, and socially and environmental advocates are asking investors to use that power.  

Here’s what you should know about human rights in the modern world, and why you should consider them when building your portfolio.  

What Are Human Rights?

According to the UN, human rights “are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.”

The UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were unanimously endorsed in 2011, have two primary goals: (1) “to reaffirm that governments have an obligation to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including businesses” and (2) “to clarify that all companies have a responsibility to respect human rights.”  These principles provide actionable steps for companies and governments to meet their obligations in protecting and respecting human rights.

These principles are also important for investors. According to the Columbia Center of Sustainable Development’s Five-Pillar Framework, “a key component of sustainable international investment includes promoting and respecting human rights that might be affected by investments.” The UN’s Guiding Principles offer investors a framework from which to assess the human rights advocacy or abuses of the companies they invest in.  

Why Consider Human Rights When Investing?

ESG investing factors include human rights, and human rights investing has the power to make an impact. For example, divestment played an important role in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. 

Beyond impact, as with other ESG priorities, there is mounting evidence that companies tend to benefit financially when they uphold human rights. So, human rights conscious investments are likely to be more successful. 

Business success is linked to good business practices for a variety of reasons. For one, “reputation is now recognized as a major source of business risk,” according to the 2018 report Good Business: The Economic Case for Protecting Human Rights

But, there are other reasons. Companies that value human rights tend to share a long-term view of success, which they execute over time. Beyond helping to promote worker and stakeholder relations, advocating for human rights also benefits from state-based economic incentives, including public procurement, export credit support, and trade incentives. A commitment to human rights also reduces litigation costs and positions companies in a favorable way as regulatory trends develop. 

In May 2020, the Investor Alliance on Human Rights released an Investor Toolkit on Human Rights. The toolkit provides a framework for investors to assess their investments based on human rights criteria.

But, aren’t companies busy with other things, especially under the stresses of a tumultuous economy? 

It’s quite the opposite. In the midst of a pandemic, companies are suddenly tasked with, in the words of The PRI, “protecting their employees, their suppliers and business partners, customers and the communities they serve,” and how they choose or choose not to do so will influence how they come out of the crisis. 

So, it’s not surprising that in September 2020, BlackRock and Vanguard launched four total new ESG ETFs that screen for human rights issues. These include iShares ESG Screened S&P 500 ETF (XVV), iShares ESG Screened S&P Mid-Cap ETF (XJH), iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF (XJR), and Vanguard ESG U.S. Corporate Bond ETF (VCEB). 

If we consider the global supply chain, human rights aren’t something so separate from our cereal or our toothpaste. For savvy, socially conscious investors, understanding whether the companies they invest in enforce or dismiss human rights with their corporate decisions should be a key factor for consideration.  

How to Invest in Human Rights

ETFs and mutual funds such as those mentioned above make investing with a clean conscience easier than ever. A search on Magnifi suggests there are a number of different ways for interested investors to support this part of the ESG landscape.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.  

The information and data are as of the October 28, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Emerging Markets

With growing, increasingly affluent populations and innovative technologies, emerging markets offer opportunity for diversification, exposure to various stages of the economic cycle, and attractive valuations. 

The top five emerging market economies— Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—are commonly referred to as the BRICS. Formalized in 2010 when these companies represented just 11% of global GDP, these countries have experienced tremendous growth since then, a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The International Monetary Fund anticipates that by 2030, the BRICS nations will make up over 50% of global GDP. 

While the BRICS countries are enormously different in terms of economies, structures, and cultures, they all have large populations and promising futures. China and India, for example, have become major players in the technology sector. Brazil is the second largest food producer in the world, second only to the U.S. Russia and South Africa are home to rich natural resources. All are home to potential supply chains and new consumer markets.

Here’s what you should know about the world’s top emerging markets and how to invest in them. 

What Are the BRICS?

As mentioned, the BRICS countries include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Brazil has a GDP of $1.868 trillion, making it the eighth-largest economy in the world. The country is also a member of Mercosur, a South American free trade area that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, which is home to three quarters of the total economic activity on the continent. Mercosur has an annual GDP of about US$5 trillion and is home to more than 250 million people.

Russia is rich in natural resources, has strong emerging industries, and a growing middle class. Russian GDP has experienced steady growth since 1998. In 2018, it increased by 1.8%, thanks to solid international growth and rising oil prices. As of 2019, its GDP is $1.64 trillion.

Russia is the dominant partner in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. These countries together boast a GDP of $5 trillion and are home to a population of 183 million. There are talks about free trade agreements with other areas, and when reached, it will no doubt change the supply chain. 

India’s GDP in 2019 was $3 trillion. Whereas politics play a role in the uncertainty of investing in some emerging economies, that’s not the case for India. Since gaining its political freedom from Britain in 1946, India established and has since successfully maintained strong parliamentary democracy. The country is the dominant partner in the South East Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The populations in these countries amount to a market of 1.6 billion people. 

China has a particularly strong manufacturing sector, and not just for “Made in China” products exported around the world. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, three fourths of China’s 6.6% GDP growth in 2018 was credited to consumption. And, its growing consumer base, with its growing wealth, wants quality. 

According to Forbes: “South Africa ranks high worldwide for investor protection and the extent of disclosure.” That fact has not been lost on foreign investors, with FDI into South Africa growing by 446% to 7.1 billion in 2018. China and Russia have both invested heavily in Africa.

In addition to being home to the most developed stock market in Africa, South Africa boasts natural resources including gold, iron, ore, coal, platinum, uranium, chromium, and manganese nickel. 

Why Invest in Emerging Markets?

Emerging markets tend to carry a varying amount of political and economic risk, depending on the country. But, on the whole, the sector has lately outperformed more established markets in Europe and North America.

COVID-19 has made this divergence even clearer, with the asset class coming nearly all the way back to pre-pandemic levels as of October 2020. This performance was in part in lockstep with the rest of the world, but since emerging markets stocks tend to fall further in bad times, they have come roaring back even stronger than their first world peers.

Per Lazard: “Following a drawdown of nearly 35% in the first quarter and a sharp 18% recovery in the second quarter, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 9.6% in the third quarter to climb nearly all the way back (96%) to its pre-COVID-19 peak.”

But, as such a large sector that’s spread across so many different countries, investing in the growth of emerging markets can’t be focused on just a few companies. Fortunately, a number of ETFs and mutual funds allow investors to access all of the asset class at one time. A search on Magnifi suggests a number of options for investors interested in the emerging markets.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the October 13, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


China

 

China, the first country to deal with COVID-19, has also been the first to see some recovery, with economic indicators mostly back to pre-pandemic levels as of October. 

But the rest of the world has not been so successful.

The financial disruption in China and around the world has made asset prices more appealing. In March, U.S. stocks plunged to three-year lows. Even as COVID raged, however, Chinese stocks remained strong and are coming back even stronger. According to fund flow data from EPFR, “allocation to Chinese stocks among more than 800 funds reached nearly a quarter of their nearly $2 trillion in assets under management.”

China’s momentum is being driven by its economic recovery, making the country an interesting diversification play in the midst of all of today’s volatility. Here is what investors need to know.

What Is Happening in China’s Economy?

China’s new economy, according to BlackRock, is technology and innovation driven, consumption and service-focused and more open with a growing, more urbanized middle class. 

Through 2018, China’s GDP growth averaged 9.5%, which the World Bank described as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” The country’s GDP was US$ 14.140 trillion in 2019 and it’s economy grew by 6.1%. Even with the pandemic, Oxford Economics anticipates a similar 6% GDP forecast for 2020.

Part of this growth is due to increased consumer demand, and a significant shift away from export reliance. In 2012, Chinese consumer spending was $3.2 trillion. This rose to $4.7 trillion in 2017. In December 2019 there was an 8% jump in retail sales and 6.9% growth in industrial production, exceeding analyst’s expectations. 

In other words, China is becoming increasingly self-reliant. 

That said, it still has its sights set on exports. China has a strong, well-educated workforce that will power the technology and advanced manufacturing sectors, which will be a core part of its economic growth. 

China’s Made in China 2025 initiative is a ten-year action plan to bolster manufacturing. Key manufacturing sectors include: New information technology, high-end numerically controlled machine tools and robots, aerospace equipment, ocean engineering equipment and high-end vessels, high-end rail transportation equipment, energy-saving cars and new energy cars, electrical equipment, farming machines, new materials, and bio-medicine and high-end medical equipment.

The plan is focused on (1) improving manufacturing innovation, (2) integrating technology and industry, (3) strengthening the industrial base, (4) fostering Chinese brands, (5) enforcing green manufacturing, (6) promoting breakthroughs in ten key sectors, (7) advancing restructuring of the manufacturing sector, (8) promoting service-oriented manufacturing and manufacturing-related service industries, and (9) internationalizing manufacturing.

But manufacturing is just one component of China’s growing economy. 

According to IBIS World, the 10 fastest growing industries in China include: internet services (27.4%), online games at (27.2%), online shopping (22%), optical fiber and cable manufacturing (20.3%), oil and gas drilling support services (8.6%), satellite transmission services (18.5%), alternative-fuel car and automobile manufacturing (17.8%), meat processing (17.3%), energy efficient consultants (17%), and Chinese medicinal herb growing at (16.6%). In other words, the economy is well-diversified. 

Why Invest in China?

According to BlackRock, China is an “opportunity too big to ignore.” 

 Despite the fact that the majority of Chinese companies on the Fortune Global 500 are state-owned, many of its economic leaders are privately owned. For example, COVID-19 related buying benefited Alibaba in the form of a 34% growth rate in its e-commerce business year on year for first quarter of 2020. And Tencent reported a 29% increase in revenue year over year, amounting to $16.2 billion during the second quarter of 2020. 

But privately owned companies aren’t the only ones flourishing.

China Life Insurance, for example, has a market capitalization of roughly $100 billion, making it not only the largest insurance company in China, but also one of the largest in the world. 

According to Nasdaq, state-owned China Mobile offers “income and price appreciation potential.” The company is huge, with “188,000 5G base stations put into service throughout more than 50 Chinese cities.” And it has an annual dividend yield of 5.95%. 

This mixture of publicly and privately owned entities uniquely positions China against economic downturns. For example, rather than directing money to citizens and businesses like the U.S. stimulus, it intervened directly in the labor market by increasing employment in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). 

China’s markets are also poised to grow. According to The Financial Times, “the Chinese economy makes up 16% of the world’s GDP and around 14% of the world’s exports, it still only makes up 5% of the world’s equity markets, despite those markets being home to some of the largest companies in the world by market value. The obvious examples are Tencent and Alibaba, companies it is hard to get through the day in China without using.”

Even though China has challenges like the pandemic and US-China trade war, it’s still on a trajectory for long-term growth. That makes it a good investment opportunity now. 

How to invest in China

With such a broad economy, investing in China as a theme isn’t as easy as buying shares in a few companies. Rather, China-focused ETFs and mutual funds allow investors to get in on the entire Chinese economy without having to pick and choose sectors. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of different options available to investors today.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the October 12, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Diversity

There’s a saying that “teamwork makes the dream work.” In the modern world, a diverse team can be the difference between success and failure. These days, employees, customers, and investors alike know that a talented group of people who advocate for the best ideas really get the job done. Usually, those people don’t all look the same.

Moreover, there are metrics that prove the merits behind the philosophy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2019, the 20 most diverse companies had an average annual stock return of 10% over five years, compared to 4.2% for the 20 least-diverse companies surveyed. 

The world in 2020, though, is much different than it was a year ago. 

With the disruptions to day-to-day life and business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy for companies to identify goals like inclusion and diversity (I&D) as more “feel-good” than critical to success. Now more than ever, though, the reality is that I&D is crucial to long-term success. 

“Commitment to I&D can help drive innovation, overcome business challenges and attract and retain top talent,” according to BlackRock. Even more, I&D “are critical for business recovery, resilience, and reimagination” according to McKinsey

There’s no denying that a more challenging world means that companies need more effective teams, which require diversity. 

Here’s why investors should put their money where the I&D is. 

What Is Inclusion and Diversity (I&D)?

Diversity “is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. In a nutshell, it’s about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin.”

Inclusion “is an organizational effort and practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted and welcomed, and equally treated.”

And, when you put these two together, it sounds like an ideal place to work. 

Why? No company operates in a vacuum— all operate in a diverse and quickly changing world, with global customer bases.

I&D has impacts for employers and employees alike. According to Allianz Global Investors, “Only if people feel included, will they bring their full selves to work and give their best. Only if people feel they can share their different perspectives, will companies fully unlock their potential to innovate and make the best decisions.” 

There is more than one Inclusion and Diversity index, but one of the most popular is the index developed by Refinitiv. Using 24 metrics across four key pillars, Refinitiv ranks over 7,000 companies around the world, identifying the top 100 publicly traded companies. The index’s ranking is based on corporate pillars including diversity, people development, inclusion, news, and controversies. 

A similar index was launched by Universum in 2019. Universum’s index focuses on recruiting for diversity. According to the index, cultural diversity is more complex than gender, age, and ethnicity. Rather, cultural diversity extends itself to include personality traits, socio-economic backgrounds, nationality, work experience, and education.

Why Invest in Inclusion and Diversity?

Diversity and inclusion efforts foster a dynamic business environment, boosts idea generation, and is an indicator of long-term success, all of which are markers of good investment opportunities. 

I&D is proven to have an impact in practice. For example, inclusion and diversity helps companies to reach a global customer base. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, “A team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% likelier than another team to understand that client.” Beyond that, according to the same study, it’s crucial for innovation leaders to encourage employees to share their ideas.

Moreover, investing in I&D can help companies to achieve higher returns.

McKinsey’s Diversity Matters study examined data (including financial results and the composition of top management) of 366 public companies across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The study found that: (1) “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians” and (2) “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

Measuring diversity and inclusion in practice has its challenges, but also its benefits.

According to Dr. Rohini Anand, Sodexo Corporation’s senior vice president and global chief diversity officer: “For every $1 it has invested in mentoring, it has seen a return of $19.”

The Fluor Corporation measures I&D in employee productivity and engagement, which translates to company performance resulting in “indirect costs or benefits to the company.” 

At MGM Mirage, I&D is measured in human resources, purchasing, construction, corporate philanthropy, and sales and marketing. It even includes editorial coverage about its I&D as having advertising value. 

As diversity becomes more important than ever before on investment reports, portfolio managers are seeing more and more correlated to positive returns. Investing in companies that value I&D is not only a way to identify companies that have an edge on their competition, it is also a way to embrace and promote this value in the corporate world. 

How to Invest in Diversity and Inclusion

Naturally, with a theme as broad as diversity, investing isn’t as simple as picking a few diverse companies and calling it good. For those investors interested in supporting a broad swath of companies that score highly on I&D, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds to consider.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the September 24, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Women's Leadership

Women’s leadership in the workplace is a work in progress. But for many, it’s not advancing quickly enough.

Nearly 30 percent of senior management roles were held by women in 2019, according to a report by Grant Thornton. This is the highest number ever on record, featuring an increase of five percentage points over the previous year.

Still, women only held six percent of the CEO positions at S&P 500 companies as of December 2019.  Even more, in the US, women still earn almost 20 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment Foundation’s Investing to Advance Women: A Guide for Investors

While the slow rate of change might make progress feel impossible, investors do have some say in the matter. More than ever, investors can put their money in companies that explicitly prioritize women’s leadership, helping to advance gender equality in the workplace and beyond. 

What Does It Mean to Invest in Women’s Leadership?

Financially investing in women can help to drive the growth of women in leadership roles. Moreover, it promotes gender diversity in business culture, recruitment policies, and staff retention policies.  At its apex, financial investment in organizations that focus on women in leadership has the potential to create gender parity at the most senior level. 

The history of formalizing a company’s commitment to women and communicating it to the public has evolved over prior decades, with each iteration more progressive than the last. 

In 2004, Calvert Women’s Principles™ were developed in partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

These principals were accepted as “the first global corporate code of conduct focused exclusively on empowering, advancing and investing in women worldwide.” They include: (1) employment and compensation, (2) work-life balance and career development, (3) health, safety, and freedom from violence, (4) management and governance, (5) business, supply chain, and marketing practices, (6) civic and community engagement, and (7) transparency and accountability. These principals were a sort of baseline for companies to say that “yes” we do this, and a temperature check to help identify where they fall short. 

In 2009, the Criterion Institute, a non-profit think tank, introduced the term “gender lens investing” or using investment to promote gender equality. The Institute’s goal extends beyond linking gender to just investing, but to (as they describe it): “equipping people to participate in making the connections between gender and finance.”

In 2010, the United Nations introduced the Women’s Empowerment Principles on International Women’s Day, which it adapted from the original Calvert Women’s Principles®.

In 2016, the mission continued with the launch of the Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment at the Commission on the Status of Women. The panel is still in existence today with the aim to close the gender pay gap entirely, among other goals. 

Then, in 2017, Criterion introduced the Blueprint for Women’s Funds. This report sees corporate engagement as one arm of a larger toolbox. It seeks to bridge the leverage of the financial sector with diverse leaders that advocate for gender equity to have long-term impact.

All of these initiatives for gender equality further similar goals with different scopes. 

Why Invest in Women?

Investors increasingly want to leverage their financial power to further social change, including gender equality in the workplace. Investing is a great way to accomplish that end. 

According to the Women’s Investment Principals, investment in women is an engine for change. More and more, people are doing just that. 

Fidelity Investments launched a women-focused mutual fund in 2019. The Women’s Leadership Fund invests in companies that either have a significant percentage of women in leadership positions or “meet gender diversity initiatives for hiring, retention, paid leave and promotion of women.”

Why? Despite the lagging progress for equality, we all know that women bring a lot to the table. According to research featured in the Harvard Business Review, women outscored men on 17 of the 19 key leadership capabilities.

And, there are more and more success stories of women in corporate leadership roles. In 2014, Mary Barra became the first woman CEO in the auto industry at General Motors(GM). Two years later in 2016, GM named the first female chairman in the auto industry. In 2018, GM named Dhivya Suryadevara its Chief Financial Officer. During Barra’s tenure, she was tasked with tackling the ignition switch crisis as well as other recalls. She successfully led GM to transcend the public relations crisis, gaining respect as a leader in the industry.  

According to a growing body of research, female leadership is increasingly linked to improved financial returns.

According to analysis from Boston-based trading firm Quantopian, “women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 drove three times the returns as S&P 500 enterprises run predominantly by men.”

More, the 2016 Gender Report by Credit Suisse found that the higher the rate of women in leadership, the higher the returns to investors. 

According to Patricia Lizarraga, managing partner at Hypatia Capital, “if every woman in the U.S. invested $100 in female business leaders this year, it’d total somewhere around $15 billion.” In other words, even small investment amounts have the potential to create some major momentum.

In the world of the “me too movement” and social change, the woman’s voice is louder than ever before.  Now is the opportune time for investors to back those voices with the dollars to create change in corporate culture specifically by investing in companies that advocate for women by offering them workplace equity and leadership opportunities.

How to Invest in Women’s Leadership

Of course, investing in companies based on social issues isn’t easy, as different companies take different approaches to these concerns and often their businesses are not directly related to them. However, ETFs and mutual funds focused on women’s leadership are a good way to access this growing sector without having to invest directly in specific companies. A search on Magnifi suggests there are a few different ways to do this.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the July 13, 2020  (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


vegan

Vegan

From coconut coffee creamers and dairy-free yogurt to veggie burgers, the market for plant-based, natural foods and beverages are outpacing total food and beverage sales overall.

According to SPINS’ 2019 State of the Natural Industry, the market for natural food and beverage products is growing at 5.0% compared to that of total food and beverages growing at 1.7% year-over-year.

While the growth is astounding, it’s not necessarily surprising.

If you’ve been to the grocery store recently, you know that plant-based products are no longer limited to one aisle and aren’t marketed to just one specific type of consumer. Plant-based products are everywhere and stores are asking all shoppers to try them.

In other words, you don’t have to be a strict vegan to buy the latest brand of oat milk or plant butter.

And, more and more consumers are trying the plant-based versions of more traditional products, knowingly or unknowingly adopting a flexible vegetarian status known “flexitarian.”

The term flexitarian was coined in 2009 by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner who promoted eating more plants and less meat overall, or rather, being vegetarian most of the time. The diet is geared to promote overall health while not totally depriving followers of animal-based products.  

Because of the lax guidelines that allow for mostly eating more veggies that the diet promotes, consumers are increasingly adopting it in one form or another—and eating more vegan products than ever.  

Consider the success story of Beyond Meat, the plant-based burger company whose stocks skyrocketed after going public in May 2019, up 213% by November. According to UBS investment, Beyond Meat’s sales could reach $1.8 billion by 2025.

Who is buying Beyond Meat’s plant-based burgers? It’s not just vegans, but meat eaters, too. 

As the number of vegans (including those with part-time buy-in) is on the rise, so is the unprecedented demand for plant-based products in grocery stores, restaurants, and beyond.

What Is Veganism?

Vegetarian diets typically eliminate meat and fish but allow for the consumption of eggs and dairy. Veganism is much more restrictive, eliminating all items of animal origin, including any food made with animal flesh, dairy products, eggs, or honey. The authentic Vegan lifestyle goes further, extending beyond food consumption to everything from textiles to clothing and cosmetics.

Generally, veganism offers three primary features: (1) additional curtailment of animal mistreatment and slaughter, (2) reduction of certain health risks, and (3) decrease of environmental footprint. 

That’s right, it’s good for the environment. 

Beyond being healthy for our bodies, veganism is promoted as a tool to combat climate change. Raising meat requires a massive use of grain and water. After slaughter, farmed animals are processed, transported, and stored, requiring the consumption of even more energy. Plant-based options tend to be more environmentally friendly. 

The number of people choosing to live a vegan lifestyle worldwide is on the rise.  In the United States, the demographic has grown by 600 percent between 2014 and 2018, from 4 million to 20 million people. The vegan population in the UK similarly quadrupled between 2014 and 2018.

This growth of veganism in conjunction with non- or sometimes-vegan consumers who buy plant-based foods for health and environmental reasons means a fast-growing market and more investment opportunities than ever. 

Why Invest in Veganism?

Vegan products are a $7.1 billion market, growing at a rate of 10.1%. The plant-based meat market alone is anticipated to be valued at $27.9 billion by 2025 globally. 

The market for other plant-based dairy alternatives, like cheese and milk, are also growing at unprecedented rates. Milk alternatives include soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and flaxseed milk. According to a recent study, the global dairy alternatives market is expected to grow, reaching $26.86 billion by 2023. 

Alternatives to traditional butter exist as well. The US plant-based butter industry is valued at $198 million and growing. Between 2017 and 2019, sales of plant-based butter increased 15%, growing faster than the sales of traditional butter.

And these trends are going mainstream. In addition to niche plant-based butter brands like Milkadamia and Miyoko, Country Crock debuted its “Plant Butter” made with olive oil, avocado oil, and almond oil in September 2019. Non-dairy yogurts made with almonds, cashews, or coconut are also on the rise. 

This phenomenon isn’t just on grocery store shelves, but in restaurants, too. White Castle offers the Impossible Sliders, Burger King offers the Impossible Whopper, and Carl’s Jr.’s offers the charbroiled Beyond Famous Star. 

And, Wall Street is taking notice the sales of plant-based products. Beyond Investing introduced the US Vegan Climate ETF, listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker VEGN, in fall 2019. The ETF excludes oil-related stocks as well as meat-centric companies. 

Vegans are passionate about the environment and their health. And, no matter what degree of vegan one is, they are willing to pay the cash for the burger that’s just as good or maybe even better than the meat alternative. 

In other words, plant-based products are here to stay, and varieties and consumer buy-in are sure to grow.

How to Invest in Veganism

But getting involved in a market segment as large and diverse as veganism — which impacts everything from food & beverage, to personal care, clothing and more — isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. But, by investing in mutual funds and ETFs that offer exposure to veganism as a whole, investors can spread their impact out to all of the companies that are working in this sector. A search on Magnifi suggests there are a number of ways for investors to get involved in veganism this way.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the  June 2, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.