Thoughts and musings from my desk to you.

Segment Ranked #19 in Texas: BARRON’S Top 1200

Advisory Firm

We are proud to be included once again in Barron’s “Top 1,200 Financial Advisors,” where we are ranked #19 among advisors in Texas and #5 in Houston.

We have made the list 10 times since 2009, and have ranked consecutively for the last eight years. We are proud that our position on the list has improved every year. In 2017, we were #85 in Texas, and this year we find ourselves at #19 in the state and #5 in Houston. We hold a similar spot on the Forbes Best-In-State ranking for 2023.

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Smart Money? Maybe. Brilliant Money? Never.

funds, stock market

Like all industries, there is a pecking order in the investment arena, a hierarchy, if you will. At the top of the financial pyramid are the hedge fund and private equity businesses. At the base of the pyramid is the bank teller. While often grouped together, the hedge fund and private equity businesses are very different since hedge funds normally trade in listed securities that are available to everyone. In contrast, private equity is comprised of companies that don’t trade anywhere. Those listed securities in the hedge fund space could be options, stocks, preferreds, bonds, futures, and may or may not include leverage, or borrowed money.

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Tax Efficiency: Vast Benefits Easily Overlooked

Tax Strategy

Traditional investment advice normally focuses on allocation into buckets. These buckets could be traditional mutual funds, or ETFs, or managed accounts holding individual stocks. In most cases, the allocation buckets are tactically rearranged, and the securities within mutual funds and managed accounts are also actively rearranged.

Considering that studies like the SPIVA Report from Standard & Poor’s routinely show that the vast majority of active managers underperform their benchmarks over any discernable timeframe, it makes you wonder what master “traditional advice” is serving.

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Challenging the Status Quo

Advisory Firm, IRAs, Tax Strategy

We get puzzled looks from new clients when we explain our position on taxable fixed income (bonds) in IRAs. Traditional planning advice recommends placing your highest growth assets in an IRA to maximize the tax deferral. We usually recommend the complete opposite approach, which becomes more and more preferable the higher the income of the current or future retiree.

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Structured Notes Deconstructed

bonds, stock market

We occasionally see portfolios come in for review containing structured notes. There are a wide variety of them, so I will speak generally. Not everything I will say applies to all, but likely most.

A structured note is a bond from a brokerage firm or sponsor which represents an underlying derivative. Most often, this derivative is a set of option contracts. The underlying derivative is what sets the parameters of upside vs. downside and can make them seem like a viable proposition.

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Market Optimism

Investing, stock market

I’m a cynic when it comes to the nature of humans but an optimist when it comes to the nature of markets. To be a pessimist, I would have to believe that markets are somehow doomed or that people are irredeemable. Neither is true. And when I speak of being a human nature cynic, rest assured I’m putting myself in the same category. I’m not judging people from some lofty height; I’m in the muck with all the other sinners. However, I have a unique vantage point, and by observing my own mistakes and those of so many others, I have insight into what works and what doesn’t. One of my most strongly held and loudly professed beliefs is the wild advantage of sitting still.

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COVER STORY: 10 Most Influential Finance Executives to Watch

Advisory Firm

From Financial Advisor to Published Author: Gil Baumgarten’s Multi-Faceted Success

Our very own Gil Baumgarten was featured on CIO View’s May 2023 cover as an “Influential Finance Executive to Watch in 2023.” Gil shares the journey of his career, how to navigate the tax code, and his future plans for Segment Wealth Management.

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ESG Shortcomings Are Exploitable


The impending recession that the bumbling federal reserve seems intent on creating will present some risks and some opportunities. While they signal that they may be finished with hiking rates, current employment numbers are still too high, and the Fed will hike until they break something. One could argue that the first cracks are showing in the banking business.

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The Importance of Tax Strategy

Advisory Firm, Tax Strategy

Just in time for Tax Day 2023, Gil talks tax strategy with the Houston Business Journal.

“With tax season upon us, it seems an appropriate time to discuss tax strategy with a local specialist. Investors might assume that the frontline professionals for advanced tax strategy are CPAs. However, some investors find that their CPAs work retroactively, focusing on preparing tax returns more than strategizing with their clients about optimal ways to reduce or eliminate taxes. Our highlighted executive today is not a CPA but has four decades of investing experience while navigating IRS rules and has developed a reputation as a specialist in reducing tax friction in his clients’ investment portfolios.”

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Death and Taxes: Not So Certain After All

Advisory Firm, Tax Strategy

Gil published a piece in Forbes Council titled, “Death and Taxes: Not So Certain After All.”

After years of writing about the subject, long-time readers will surely realize how degrading taxes are to returns. With market liquidity at all-time highs and trading commissions now free, investors are seemingly incentivized to trade their accounts. The math is simple right? All one must do is spot a better opportunity and taxes are just a part of the game, right? Yes, but how big of a part?

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Gil's Musings

Learn about the world of investing from an industry veteran. Gil's Musings are inspired by Gil's thoughts on timely finance topics, stock market trends and the psychology behind smart investments.

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