Category Archives: Trust & Investment Group

Important information regarding trust and investment topics, industry updates, and helpful tips in planning for your future.

Betsy Pierson Joins Alpine Trust & Investment Group

BPierson_09.15Julie O’Rourke, Executive Vice President and Senior Trust & Investment Officer, is pleased to welcome Elizabeth “Betsy” Pierson, Senior Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, to Alpine Trust & Investment Group.

Ms. Pierson joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group earlier this month.  She is responsible for overall investment strategy, as well as client relationships.

Ms. Pierson has been involved with the investment process, asset allocation and strategy decisions for over three decades.  She has worked alongside institutional and high net worth clients to help them achieve their long-term financial goals.  In addition, she has extensive knowledge in the fixed-income area, having managed bond mutual funds and a fixed-income collective investment trust fund for employee benefit plans.

She graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana with a Bachelor of Science in Finance.  She attained her Chartered Financial Analyst designation, in 1991.

She has served on non-profit boards in the past and is looking forward to more opportunities to serve the community.

This is Not a Lehman Moment!

Certainly stock market declines of the nature that we have experienced in the past couple ofStockMarket days are unnerving.  Recollection of the 2007-2009 market decline is very fresh in investors’ minds. It is important to keep these events in perspective. The previous decline was a reaction to a financial system on the brink, a real crisis in confidence in the entire financial system. This is not the case today. In other words, this is not a Lehman moment!

So, what is going on?
>      This is merely a reset of global growth expectations. It’s becoming clear that the global economy, likely in part due to demographics, is going to be in a much slower growth pattern than has historically been the case.
>      If global economic growth is lower, then future earnings growth must be lower too. Earnings are what moves stock prices and that’s why stocks are going lower, to reset to new lower growth expectations.
>      Good news is that U.S. earnings expectations are not very high anyway, however, everyone has been suspicious of China’s reported economic data and given all the actions the government has been taking to stabilize growth, the suspicions are confirmed and China is likely growing slower than previously thought.
>      Market valuation is not at the same high level that it was in 2007, it is much more reasonable.
>      Our economy is still growing steadily. Our largest trading partners are Canada, China, and Mexico. China’s citizens are not heavily involved in their stock market so our exports to China may not even be impacted too much.
>      U.S. new home sales in July were at their highest level since July 2007; auto sales are at best pace in a decade; labor market improved.
>     Europe has become more stable despite Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras’ recent resignation.  European growth is firming, but certainly not robust. Recent Eurozone PMI came in at 54.1, signaling the best expansion in some time for the manufacturing sector.
>     U.S. has gone 1,418 calendar days without a 10% correction, the 3rd longest in the past 50 years. The DOW and S&P 500 have now corrected 10% from their May 2015 highs. 10% corrections are normal and healthy, even though they do not feel very good, especially when they happen as quickly as this one.
>     The Fed has not been clear on its direction and that has spooked markets as well. Market volatility may push off a rate hike until at least December.
>     Most portfolios are diversified and are not fully invested in stocks. Bonds have rallied so that side of your portfolio should have gained in value to help offset equity declines.

Investors in the equity markets know that long term value is achieved only when a long term perspective can be maintained. Volatility like this is difficult to tolerate over the short term but might be easier if the media was as vocal about the gains in your bond portfolio that were serving to mitigate some of the short term equity declines.

Investment and insurance products are: not Alpine Bank products, not FDIC insured; not guaranteed; and, may be subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.


Alpine Trust & Investment Group Officers Promoted

JO_ML Bill Roop, president & CEO of Alpine Bank, has announced the promotions of two Alpine Trust & Investment Group employees, Julie O’Rourke and Michele Lind.

 Julie O’Rourke, CFA, CFP® was promoted to Executive Vice President and Senior Trust & Investment Officer.  Ms. O’Rourke joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group in 2004 and has over two decades of investment management experience. She Chairs the Investment Strategy Committee, is responsible for monitoring the economy and markets, and leading department-wide portfolio strategy decisions.  Ms. O’Rourke supervises the team of investment professionals and manages the investment and financial planning processes.  She works with institutional and high net worth clients.

Prior to joining Alpine Trust & Investment Group, Julie spent 15 years serving as portfolio manager, working with both large institutions and individuals at all stages of wealth. She successfully led a team of equity research analysts as they worked together to manage equity mutual funds. Julie has counseled many different types of institutions regarding the construction of investment policies and appropriate asset allocation.

She has been quoted in several print publications and has appeared on both television and radio to speak about investments, the markets and the economy. She has presented to the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII), the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Smart Women / Smart Money seminar, as well as to numerous economic and financial market outlook symposiums.

Julie graduated from Rockford University with a BS in Finance and attained the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1995 and the Certified Financial Planner TM (CFP®) designation in 2008.  She is a member of United Way’s Impact Council and the Boone County Council on Aging Endowment Committee and volunteers at St. Mary Parish.

 Michele Lind, CFP® has been promoted to Assistant Vice President & Investment Officer.  Ms. Lind joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group in March 2009.  She manages portfolios of individual trusts and guardianships, investment agency accounts, and 401(k) plans.  She is responsible for monitoring the economy and markets as a member of the Investment Strategy Committee.

Prior to joining the investment group, Michele spent 20 years in the financial planning and investment industry with various positions in administration and marketing, sales and project management, and bank brokerage management.

Michele is a graduate of Rockford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics/Finance.    She earned the Certified Financial PlannerTM designation in 2005 and holds Life and Health Insurance licenses for the state of Illinois.

Michele currently serves on the Finance Committee for Womanspace of Rockford.

Chris Johnson Joins Alpine Trust & Investment Group

JohnsonChris_05_2014Bill Roop, President of Alpine Bank, has announced that Chris Johnson has recently joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group as Vice President and Trust Officer. Mr. Johnson brings with him nearly 20 years of experience in the financial industry, with 16 of those years in trust and investments. His office is located in the Alpine Bank location at 600 South State Street in Belvidere.

Mr. Johnson grew up in the DeKalb area and attended Northern Illinois University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Finance and Master of Business Administration (MBA).  He, his wife and four children are excited to be back in the area to serve the communities he calls home.

“On behalf of Alpine Trust and Investment Group, I am pleased to welcome Chris to our team of trust experts,” said Lee Mayer, Executive Vice President and Senior Trust Officer. “His expertise and commitment to his clients exemplifies our fundamental principle of people helping people.”

6 Investing Lessons from March Madness

The NCAA championship basketball tournament is an annual highlight for sports fans, earning the nickname “March Madness” for the frenzy that teams and fans alike become caught up in during the four weeks of tournament play. Filling out a bracket is perhaps the only thing more popular than watching the tournament games. Like investing, bracket picks are a matter of balancing expertise, expectation, risk and reward.
1. It’s about getting the most right, not being perfect.
Your investing, like your bracket, is not going to be perfect. The mathematical odds of correctly picking the outcome of every game in the NCAA Tournament are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (for the record, that first number is 9 quintillion). Statistically, each person on earth would have to fill out more than a billion individual brackets before one would be perfect.
The odds of all your investments continually producing above-market returns are probably even lower. Successful investing is about making as many wise decisions as possible and getting more investments right than wrong.
2. Diversify.
No one turns in a bracket with results for just one or two teams and expects to earn enough points to win. People fill out the entire bracket to gather enough points and ensure that losses in one region can be compensated for with wins in another. Diversification is hugely important to investors as well. No matter how sure you are of an investment, it’s never a good idea to put all your money in one place.
3. Anything could happen, but it usually doesn’t.
Although there are always some upsets, favored teams usually do reasonably well. Investors shouldn’t think that diversifying among long-shot stocks is a recipe for success. You could successfully score on every upset game of the tournament if you only picked underdogs, but there is no way those few successful games could make up for all the losses where things went as everyone expected.
4. Last year’s tournament was last year.
Past performance guarantees nothing about the future. Investors (and basketball fans) should never assume that their best picks from last year will have a repeat performance. A team wins because of skill and management; a hot stock should only be kept if there are sound reasons for its past (and future) success.
5. Lucky systems are a myth.
Humans are hardwired to see patterns. It’s a survival instinct that helps us find the things that we need and avoid dangerous situations. Superstitions form when people notice a pattern and choose to only remember the times when it worked, reinforcing useless behavior. A foolish investment (or bracket) is one that relies on superstitious or “hunch” decision-making. Investments are ownership in a company, not a gamble. Successful companies are the key to successful stocks.
6. The drama goes up the more you watch.
Though watching the action of a live game is the most exciting part of the NCAA tournament, it’s one of the worst ideas in investing. Drama is good entertainment, but it almost never helps an investor. Watching every twitch of the market only leads to bad decision-making. A wise investor stays as detached as possible from daily stock fluctuations.
How they’re different: Investing is not a competition
It’s important to remember that good investing is not about being the best investor in the world; it’s about securing enough money for your future. Unlike March Madness, you shouldn’t worry about “beating” others’ investment strategies. A sound strategy might not be as impressive as someone else’s high-risk approach, but it can still be successful.


Link to PDF of Alpine Trust & Investment Group newsletter: AB Newsletter March 2014