Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Economic Snapshot

Housing: The median home price for Los Angeles County increased 7.4% in June to $569,000, setting a record high. Orange County increased 6.1% in June to $695,000, compared from a year earlier.

Jobs: Data from the California Employment Development Department showed employers reduced their payrolls by 1,400 in June. Unemployment remained at 4.7%, the lowest since November 2000.

LEI: The San Diego Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego reached 144.4 in June, the highest in 17 years. There were 2,100 construction permits issued in June.

Q2 GDP Highlights: The first estimate of Q2 GDP showed GDP increased at a 2.6% annualized rate from the prior quarter. Q1 was revised to 1.2% from 1.4%.

Consumer Spending: Consumer spending increased 2.8% in Q2 according, to data from the Commerce Department.

Wages: The Commerce Department data showed wages and salaries increased 0.5% in Q2, down from a 0.8% increase in Q1.

Federal Reserve: After the last policy meeting the Federal Reserve decided to keep rates unchanged. The Fed still anticipates “gradual” rate hikes however economists are predicting there will be no further rate increases in 2017, unless inflation increases.

Bank Confidence: A Gallup survey found 26% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in banks. American confidence in banks was 21% in 2012 and 41% in June 2007.

Debt: Data analyzed from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data Charts showed student loan debt increased 828.3% since 1999. Auto debt increased 137.2% and credit card debt increased 23.6%.

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"Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Center for Microeconimc Data Charts showed student loan debt increased 828.3% since 1999." 

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Do private equity owned businesses perform better?

Too Faced Cosmetics in Irvine, CA was sold in November 2016 to Estee Lauder Companies for $1.45 billion, almost for $1 billion more than acquired one year earlier by the seller, General Atlantic. 

General Atlantic, a New York private equity firm, acquired the business in 2015 from another private equity firm, Weston Presidio. 

Too Faced was co-founded in 1998 by Southern California entrepreneurs Jarod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson.

The founders sold Too Faced to Weston Presidio in 2012, for only $71 million.

How did Too Faced Cosmetics' value go from $71 million to $1.45 billion during the 2012 to 2016 period? 

There may be several explanations, but the key answer is in the way how private equity owned businesses are owned, managed, perform, and grow in value. 

It is commonly known that businesses owned by private equity firms do better, at least for short- and intermediate-term, than their industry peers.


Private equity imposes certain disciplines and models to force companies to succeed or at least satisfy its highly driven and monetary-oriented ownership. Companies are forced to immediately improve financial efficiency, performance, and continuity. Well-placed partners of private equity firms serve as company ambassadors, acting as connectors to valuable contacts and strategic opportunities.


A study by A.T. Kearney (leading global consultancy) revealed the following:
  1. Private equity owned companies generally outperform their industry peers, primarily in slow-growth industries, such as chemicals, large consumer goods and retail, manufacturing and business services.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, PE firms that take on a supervisory role—giving the deal partner responsibility from acquisition through exit— deliver more value by balancing growth and profitability.
  3. Success factors of PE firm models are transferable for those willing to learn.

Why private equity firms love cash?

PE players look at their balance sheet not as static indicators of performance, but a dynamic tools for growth. One critical component of this approach is to aggressively manage down working capital.

Lessons from private equity any company can learn
Bain & Company, a consulting giant which has succeeded as a private equity investor as well, offers a list of lessons any company can learns from private equity:
  • Define the full potential. The target is to increase equity value - how to turn $1 of equity value today into $3, $4, or $5 tomorrow. 
  • Develop the blueprint. The blueprint is the road map for reaching your full potential - the who, what, when, and how. 
  • Accelerate performance. This involves molding the organization to the blueprint, matching talent to key initiatives, and getting people to own them. 
  • Harness the talent. This requires creating the right incentives to recruit, retain, and motivate your best talent - and get them to think and act like owners. 
  • Make equity sweat. This calls for managing working capital aggressively, disciplining capital expenditures, and working the balance sheet hard.
  • Foster result-oriented mind-set. The goal is inculcate disciplines so that they become part of the company's culture and create a repeatable formula for achieving results.
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"We love to discover companies with hidden gems like owned real estate which we can later sell and lease back, extracting our equity and reducing our base investment costs. It happens often and sellers could easily take advantage of these if they only reviewed their assets before selling to us." -  Mid-size private equity executive.




In conclusion
Studies show that the PE business model drives value well beyond wealth creation for the owners. PE firms rejuvenate companies, create jobs, and open new markets that benefit customers, employees, suppliers and the communities in which they operate.

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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Should private equity be part of an investment portfolio?

Lately the industry has been abuzz about the increased allocation to private equity by ultra-high net worth (UHNW) families. This is unsurprising, given that they have the ability to be patient investors. Additionally, domestic market equity returns continue to be uninspiring, while hedge funds suffer through a prolonged period of underperformance, versus low-cost ETFs and other alternatives. Given this context of low interest rates, fully valued equity markets and disappointing hedge fund returns, there is little wonder as to the increased appetite for private equity.

Historically, private equity has out-performed comparable public markets; Cambridge Associates’ pooled net IRR data (as of December 31, 2015) for the trailing one-, three-, five- and ten-year periods for U.S. large and mega-buyout funds showed returns of 10.5, 16.8, 15.1 and 11.4 percent, respectively. Large and mega buyout funds are those larger than $1 billion and $5 billion, respectively. By contrast, the S&P 500 (including dividend reinvestment) produced 1.4, 15.1, 12.5 and 7.3 percent annualized returns over the same time frame. Data intelligence firm Preqin also noted that private equity now manages $2.4 trillion in assets, with 689 funds closed in 2015, raising $288 billion.

Increasingly, UHNW families have been seeking direct investments in privately held companies. And while some have the operational history and in-house expertise to source direct private-equity investments, this is not the case for most multifamily offices (MFOs) and registered investment advisors (RIAs).

Building a full portfolio of direct investments, however, requires substantial due diligence and operational expertise, especially now. Pitchbook’s Q1 2016 U.S. Middle Market Report showed that in 2015 there were 2,023 private-equity middle-market deals, with an aggregate value of $374 billion. In a May 2016 BloombergGadfly column, “Private Equity is Seeing Diminishing Returns,” Nir Kaissar postulated that, given the increasing size of private equity, industry returns could be expected to decline. Data sources CohnReznick, Preqin and Pitchbook have all noted that deals have gotten more competitive and valuations have increased. The potential for high returns on capital brings more investors and dollars, which tends to compress returns. Despite this backdrop, the longer-term outlook for middle-market private equity seems positive.

Even if returns are subject to compression, U.S. middle-market buyout (inclusive of small-market buyout) returned 9.9, 14.0, 13.5 and 12.7 percent over the previously mentioned period, providing excess returns over public markets.

"Disciplined and patient investors may be rewarded over time by allocating to a diversified portfolio of private equity investments and funds."

Additionally, as reported in CohnReznick’s Momentum 2016 Middle Market Private Equity Outlook, “Far beyond financial engineering and balance sheet optimization, it is increasingly imperative for middle market PE firms to explore and implement digital strategies that can dramatically improve business.” 

Given the available alternatives, patient investors may be rewarded over time if they allocate to a diversified portfolio of private equity investments and funds.

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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Cash Management Best Practices for High-growth Companies

With limited resources and pressures brought upon by high growth, finance managers of smaller companies face unique challenges when it comes to cash management.

Whether a company is gearing to take on a major customer or integrating a newly acquired company, the need to collect and disburse funds can add to pressure. Managing cash flows can jeopardize company stability, hold back its growth, and put stress on its employees.

Implementing the following key strategies can help

1. Manage accounts centrally
2. Align bank accounts ownership with corporate structure
3. Optimize structures to fit credit facilities
4. Choose right payment and transfer methods
5. Plan to minimizing transfer costs such as wires, etc.
6. Evaluate options to earn more on idle cash balances
7. Centralize collection streams in to one global account
8. Institute standards for scalability and visibility

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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.

Friday, August 26, 2016

LIBOR Traders Are Predicting Fed Rate Increase

LIBOR traders, who set the inter-bank lending rates that are tied to at least $350 trillion of financial products, are projecting a Fed rate increase. 

The chart shows that traders expect a 0.25% rate increase to take place in the next 3 to 6 month period.

The 30-day LIBOR went up 0.25% either in anticipation or shortly after Fed increased the rate by 0.25% in December 2015.

LIBOR rates are tied to floating rate mortgages, most business lines of credit, money market funds, short duration corporate bonds, etc. LIBOR influences costs of doing business and greatly impacts corporate capital expenditures.
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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dividends...Investors' Search for Value



Dividends. They are one of the first figures investors look for when they believe there is not enough value opportunities in the equities market. 

At the moment, we are currently seeing dividend levels that have not been reached in a very long time. The S&P indicated that the quarterly dividend amount in 4Q15 represented the second largest dividend total in at least ten years. 

On the other hand, the dividend growth rate actually fell to its lowest point since 2011.

"Dividends. They are one of the first figures investors look for when they believe there is not enough value opportunities in the equities market. "

When valuations are uncertain and investors find it too risky to bet on a company’s growth alone, dividends are usually sought in order to ensure a safer return. Many companies even continue disbursing dividends, regardless of how the company is doing financially; simply to maintain investors’ faith in the company. For instance, even though commodities took a big hit in 1Q16, only 12 S&P 500 companies cut or suspended their dividends. However, 919 companies in the U.S. equities market increased their dividend in 1Q16, which was actually 8% lower than during 1Q15.

Though dividend growth is not increasing at the same rate it was just a few years ago, they are still very attractive, especially among more conservative investors or investors who would like to hedge away some of the risk from other investments. 

With interest rates remaining at low levels and thought to remain as such for the time being, dividend rates are providing better returns than government bonds. Though this has become somewhat of a norm, it was not so almost a decade ago. Back then only 5% of stocks in the S&P had higher dividend yields than the 10-year Treasury yield. In the last few years this number has jumped to 65%. At the moment, the S&P dividend yield has about a 20% higher return than the 10-year Treasury. And with dividend yields predicted to stay at current levels for the next couple of years, dividend paying stocks should continue to remain popular among investors; so long as interest rates remain near their current lows as well.

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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.

Friday, July 15, 2016

6 Best Practices to Protect Your Confidential Information

Although there is a vast amount of technology available that is designed to safeguard your devices and personal information, that information is still vulnerable to cyber-criminals and identity thieves. In fact, security breaches are not always due to a weakness in technology control. Sometimes, they are the result of the action or inaction of the user—you! Therefore, you are one of the best lines of defense against cyber-crime.

It's always a good time to implement the following information security best practices to do your part in keeping your personal information safe and secure.

"Therefore, you are one of the best lines of defense against cyber-crime."

1) Build strong passwords
It's important to create strong passwords for all of your online accounts. But what exactly does this mean? A strong password:
  • Contains both uppercase and lowercase characters, as well as digits and punctuation
  • Is at least eight characters long
  • Is not a word in any language, slang, dialect, or jargon
  • Is not based on personal information, names of family members, and so on
A good rule of thumb is that passwords should be hard to guess but easy to remember.

2) Use multifactor authentication
A user ID and strong password alone are not sufficient protections for securing web accounts. Multifactor authentication—one of the simplest and most effective ways to secure your data—adds an extra layer of protection. With multifactor authentication, users must provide two forms of identification in order to log in to a site.

Here's how it works: After a user enters a user ID and password, the website will send a passcode to the user's mobile device. He or she must then enter this code on the site, ensuring that only that individual can sign into the account.

3) Be suspicious of unsolicited e-mail
Be wary of any e-mails that convey a sense of doom and gloom (e.g., threatening to close an account) or that claim immediate action is required. Grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and generic salutations are also red flags. Perhaps most important, scrutinize those e-mails that contain links and attachments from sources you don't know (and, unfortunately, even from sources you do know). It's quite easy for cyber-criminals to craft a legitimate-looking e-mail in the hopes that you'll be fooled into thinking it came from a company you do business with or from a friend. To protect yourself from this scenario, don't hesitate to verify: Call the source directly to authenticate from whom it was sent it; if it came from a company you know, go to the company website directly to log in.

4) Protect your mobile devices
Outdated software can leave your mobile devices open to security vulnerabilities. By keeping your apps and mobile operating system software up to date, you can mitigate the risk of a cyber-criminal exploiting a hole in your system. Most devices simplify this process for you by offering automatic update options for apps, as well as notification systems that let you know as soon as an operating system update is available. It's your job to take care of these updates immediately!

Another mobile device necessity is to do your homework, making sure the apps you're downloading are from a reputable company (e.g., by checking their ratings and comments). Be sure you know what the app does and what information it's going to access on your mobile device.

5) Engage in safe web browsing
Keeping your browser up to date is critical in preventing malware. Just like apps and your operating system, an out-of-date browser can open up security gaps that cyber-criminals will take advantage of. Be alert to pop-ups and advertisements: Both could be spyware used to plant tracking cookies on your machine, which can steal your information, direct you to bogus phishing sites, and pummel you with pop-ups.

When transmitting personally identifiable or payment information, you can ensure that you are on a secure site by checking for the "https://" before the "www.whateversite.com." When on public Wi-Fi networks, consider connecting through a personal virtual private network (VPN) and disable auto-connect; this way, your device won't automatically connect to found public networks.

6) Stay vigilant
Although advanced technology today is certainly a safeguard and buffer to keep cyber-criminals at bay, it's critical to remember that you are in the first line of defense to keeping your data safe and secure.

For more tips and tricks to stay safe online, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance at www.staysafeonline.org.

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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

As Credit Tightens, Entrepreneurs and Dealmakers Turn to Non-Traditional Lenders


After what occurred in 2000 and 2008, one should have expected banks and other common lenders to become more regulated and scrutinized. Though this may have created some inconveniences for some firms, it helped open the door for others. Banks have established more rigorous qualifications for companies to be given financing, and capital constraints and shareholder activism are becoming more influential when it comes to publicly traded business development companies (BDC). For middle markets in particular, this has allowed alternative lenders to emerge and acquire more market share than would otherwise have been possible, because of the vast amount of competitors.

“Banks have established more rigorous qualifications for companies…”

With public perception of banks still relatively low and regulators keeping a close watch, it is not difficult to see why banks want to keep a low profile and not conduct any business that may raise a red flag. In 2015, 25% of middle market loan transactions featured deals of more than 6x EBITDA; an example given by regulators as a possible red flag. It is why most traditional bank lenders are currently staying away from making leveraged loans deals on private equity firm deals.

Similarly, BDC’s are also currently sourcing fewer deals. They are currently facing difficulties in raising capital, because as of March, most were trading below book value. This has prevented many from issuing new equity for funding. Without cash to fund new transactions, the only alternative would be to fund from repayment on existing loans.
Collateralized loan obligation (CLO) issuances are on the decline. About $4 billion in CLOs were priced for what was most of the first quarter, a harsh decline from almost $17 billion during the same time period just last year. During 2013-2015, the CLO market grew by more than 50%. However, the market has decreased by about 50% during the past year. Additionally, under the Volcker Rule which is set to take effect at the end of 2016, managers will be required to hold 5% of their CLOs. Though many managers are attempting to adapt and others are selling off their CLOs, it remains to be seen how the rest of the market reacts.

Finally, we come to the benefactors. Alternative lenders are currently taking advantage of the current state of the lending market with great vigor. A great advantage they have is being able to act quickly and with much flexibility. This is possible, because most are either non-regulated or regulated far less than traditional lenders. These alternative lenders are beginning to develop close relationships with private equity firms for these particular reasons, which helps PE firms acquire financing for deals, and as a result fund the investments in their portfolios. Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) funds are also benefiting from the current state of the financing landscape, especially considering the two new regulatory changes made at the end of last year; reduced registration requirements by advisors and the amount of capital an SBIC can control has been raised to $350 million from $225 million.

Though the availability of attaining financing has become more difficult, not all have been affected negatively. The financing landscape will improve, but in the short-term, in its current state, we should expect alternative lenders to become more prominent players in the space.

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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The State of Commercial Real Estate

The NCREIF ODCE Index NOI growth is currently at its lowest point in the past decade (as shown in the graph on the top-right). 

Also known as the NFI-ODCE, the index consists of 30 open-end commingled funds, pursuing a diversified core investment strategy and primarily investing in private equity real estate, with $173.1 billion of gross real estate assets and $133.3 billion of net real estate assets. 

An important criterion for a fund to be considered for the NFI-ODCE index is that at least 80% of market value of real estate net assets must be invested in office, industrial apartment and retail property types. The decrease in net operating income growth is important to note, given that U.S. commercial real estate prices have been rising steadily since 2009 and are only now beginning to plateau; decreasing in some sectors and locations. 

Though one cannot be sure whether this bull market is finally coming to an end, one must consider that it is a possibility. 

According to deal tracker Real Capital Analytics, Inc., $25.1 billion worth of commercial property was exchanged in February compared to $47.3 billion in February 2015; a decrease of approximately 88%.

Commercial real estate valuations have been on the rise since 2009, with retail and apartment properties above 2007 levels. Though not quite as high, industrial and office properties have also surpassed values reported in 2009. 

One of the reasons for the appreciation is the increase in demand for commercial real estate, resulting in some of the lowest vacancy rates in the last 25 years. The apartments sector has the highest vacancy rate, relative to vacancy rates in the respective time period, when compared to the office, retail and industrial real estate sectors. If this data concerns you, you are not alone. 

Last week, Kansas City Fed President Esther George expressed her concern for the commercial real estate market by saying it is a potential asset bubble that “bears watching”. George encouraged the U.S. central bank to stay on the course and gradually raise interest rates. This has been a growing concern for many, with the U.S. central bank acting increasingly dovish in recent times.


Something else to consider is the beginning of the end of SIFI designations. The SIFI designation for non-bank companies and a similar designation for eight of the big banks were established to create safeguards to prevent or minimize the effects of another financial crisis by requiring financial institutions recognized as being too big to fail maintain high levels of capital reserves and liquidity, and be subject to extensive government oversight. However, both MetLife and GE have recently filed to have the SIFI designation removed. If successful, this may mean an increase in capital available. Though the effects may not be immediate, commercial real estate lending might increase for those firms with exposure to the industry.  
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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The State of Federal Finances

The economy is one of the most popular topics among Americans. Both business and non-business individuals concentrate on the fed’s annual budget to help predict which direction the economy will move. The federal budget is garnering much interest now that the presidential election is coming closer, the next interest hike is being anticipated to take place in the near future and the many domestic and international issues are taking the spotlight at the moment.

So let us discuss some of the areas where the allocation of federal funds will be especially important. In order of % of the federal budget, the following are the main budget areas:

Medicare & Medicaid (27%)
  • Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees will total 68 million people in 2016
  • Runoff costs over the next decade are estimated to be $146 billion
  • 31 states participate in the Obamacare program
Social Security (23%)
  • Has been running on a deficit since 2010
  • Number of people receiving social security: 65.3M (Feb. 2016)
  • Number of people in labor force who are employed: 151M
  • Current social security tax rate is 6.2% for both employer and employee (12.4% total)

Non-Defense Discretionary (16%)
  • Programs include education, scientific research, infrastructure, law enforcement, courts, national parks and forests,  and other national needs
  • Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 expires in 2018
  • Projected to fall to historic lows; less than 8% of GDP beginning in 2018

Defense (15%)
  • Consumed slightly over 21% of 2015 federal budget
  •  Department of Defense projects a budget averaging $534 billion from 2016-2020
  • Defense as a share of federal spending at all-time lows since 1950

Other (12%)

Net Interest (6%)

The federal budget deficit has been decreasing drastically since the millennium highs of 2009. However, the deficit is expected to increase steadily beginning in 2016 through 2026, though not as intensely as ’08-’12 levels. It is estimated that this will mean an increase in federal net debt, in the same period, of about 12%. If this materializes, this means federal net debt in 2026 will be equal to 85.6% of GDP.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts 10-year U.S. Treasury notes and 3-month U.S. T-bills interest rates to rise to 4.1% and 3.2%, respectively. These levels are thought to be reached and held, beginning 2021-2026. These rates will need to be tracked closely, T-bills especially, given that the interest rates have not changed much since 2009.

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Clicking the Like button on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. does not constitute a testimonial for or endorsement of Redmount Capital Partners LLC or any Investment Advisor Representative. “Like” is not meant in the traditional sense. Posts must refrain from recommending investment advisory services or providing testimonials for our firm, since they are strictly prohibited. Please understand that we are required to delete such posts, since this is a regulatory requirement.