• October 28, 2016

    Crown Financial Partners is honored to be a Corporate Sponsor for the Building Bridges between Israel & Asia Event at the Beverly Hills Synagogue.

    Click here to visit website

    Beverly Hills Synagogue [YINBH] is a member of the Young Israel family of synagogues.

    [YINBH] strive[s] to provide our members and visitors with a meaningful and inspiring prayer and Torah learning environment.

    [YINBH] shul is renowned for its leadership role in charitable and social welfare projects, both in California, and in Israel. Support for the State of Israel is central to our members, who are leaders in the support for Israel’s economy, security, and religious character.

  • November 11, 2015

    Crown Financial Partners is honored to be acknowledged as the Presenting Sponsor for the 2015 ETTA Gala at the Beverly Wilshire.

    Since 1993, ETTA has been a premier provider of services for adults with disabilities.

    ETTA offers residential housing, job training and placement, life skills, educational and social programming. ETTA’s mission is to enable people with special needs, and their families who love them, to live fully enriched and active lives throughout Los Angeles. [ETTA] empower[s] people with disabilities to achieve greater independence, inclusion, and growth.

    Click here to visit event website.

  • November 4, 2015

    Crown Financial Partners is honored to be acknowledged as an Entertainment Sponsor for the CFV’s 2015 Autumn Appreciation Dinner at the Castaway.

    Since 1956, the Community Foundation of the Verdugos has provided counsel to donors and financial support to organizations with diverse needs within Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose and Verdugo City regions.

    Click here to watch video.

  • September 20, 2015

    Municipal Bonds for a Rising-Rate Era

    Step-up muni bonds feature payments that rise over time, but there are risks

    by Gregory Zuckerman, The Wall Street Journal

    Step-up bonds seem to be becoming more dominant in the muni market as a rise in interest rates seems more likely. Are they a smart investment now?

    Grant Carlson, San Francisco

    Step-up municipal bonds are long-term bonds with initial coupons that rise over time, at set periods, as long as the bonds aren’t called, or redeemed, by an issuer.

    Because the bonds may be redeemed, they often trade at a higher yield than comparable bonds without a call provision. If interest rates rise and the bonds aren’t called—perhaps because the issuer deems it costly to refinance their debt—the yield of the bond increases, or steps up, giving the holders a bonus.

    Step-up muni bonds can be popular when investors anticipate rising interest rates—as they do today—because they can provide a higher yield in such an environment. They’re also in demand lately because most high-grade municipal bonds sport meager yields. Even if the issuer pays the debt back early, an investor will have enjoyed higher payments with these bonds than with standard muni bonds.

    “Step-up bonds make sense if an investor has a view that rates will rise over time and wants the future coupon to rise with the higher expected market rates,” says Michael Degernes, head of municipals at Aberdeen Asset Management. Mr. Degernes says prices of these bonds usually are less volatile than other munis as rates rise.

    For those interested, Chris Brigati, managing director and head of municipal trading at Advisors Asset Management, recommends buying step-up munis when they are first issued and can have a “lower price point” than other high-coupon muni bonds.

    But if interest rates stay low or drop and the bonds are called, investors must reinvest the proceeds in a low-rate environment. These bonds aren’t “for everyone,” says Jim Colby, senior municipal strategist at Van Eck Global. “You can find yourself losing bonds you deem attractive.”

    Adam Buchanan, senior vice president at investment banking firm B.C. Ziegler & Co., notes that some issuers have “checkered histories or are speculative startup projects” and were forced to issue these bonds because it was their only means of raising capital in the muni market. It is important to do extensive research on these issuers, he says.

    Step-up munis usually are callable on the date the coupon steps up, Mr. Buchanan says, pointing out the risk that investors who hold such bonds won’t benefit. Moreover, he adds, “If interest rates increase at a pace that exceeds the step, the bonds lose value.”

    Matthew Tuttle, chief executive of Tuttle Tactical Management, says floating-rate bonds are a better option than step-up bonds when rates rise steadily, though step-ups remain more attractive than fixed-rate bonds.

    “The other problem with step-ups is you can’t access them through an ETF so you would have to buy individual bonds” which can be more challenging to purchase, partly because it can be difficult knowing if an investor is getting the market price, Mr. Tuttle says.

    Dan Heckman, senior fixed-income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Kansas City, adds: These bonds sometimes aren’t very liquid, or easy to sell without moving prices, because they’re a small part of the market. Further, the upside appreciation is limited because issuers can call them.

    Step-up bonds can be a good option when interest rates rise slowly and steadily, argues Seok Jo, chief investment officer of Crown Financial Partners in Beverly Hills, Calif. But investors need to calculate the yield-to-call, or the yield they would receive if the bond is called, rather than assume they can hold the bonds to maturity.

    Mr. Zuckerman is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in New York. He can be reached at

  • Applying Science to Investing

    An introduction to Dimensional for investors, this video underscores how science has transformed every aspect of our lives, including investing.

  • Dimensional Origins

    Chairman and Co-CEO David Booth and others talk about the firm’s founding and its close ties to the academic community.