Month: January 2020

Financial Inflammation

© Can Stock Photo / staras

Inflammation is one of the ways the human body deals with harmful stimuli. It keeps us healthy. Chronic inflammation is something else: it is thought by some to be at the root of many health challenges. It seems to be a factor in heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other serious problems. Complex processes are difficult to manage, but some things have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation.

We use the concept of chronic inflammation to think about other areas of life, as well. Sometimes we meet people who have conflicting goals, plans that are unlikely to happen, unsatisfying spending habits, or ineffective use of wealth.
All of these are a form of financial inflammation.

The first step in dealing with inflammation is understanding its role in keeping us from healthy bodies or working financial plans. Then we can work on the things that are aggravating it and the things that may help control it.

1. Clarifying goals provides a focus that may guide our decision-making and reduce uncertainty.

2. Figuring out a path to get to your goals provides a roadmap to move you toward that desired future.

3. Fixing the things that interfere with progress, and finding ways to improve your progress, are ways to systematically reduce the financial inflammation in your life.

Vitality is a good thing in your financial plans and planning, as well as in life.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Two Kinds of People?

© Can Stock Photo / edharcanstock

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people and those who do not. (Generally speaking, we are not big on putting everyone into simplistic categories. We humans are complicated!)

People do vary, of course, one from another. One of these dimensions is whether we believe we exercise control over our lives, or are the product of things that happen to us. As with many things, perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Knowing how vital learning is to our work for you, especially in a changing world, it is tempting to believe I chose to be a life-long learner. But my father taught college English and Journalism when I was young; my mother went back to school to requalify as a registered nurse in the 1970’s, long after graduating from nursing school in the 1940’s and taking decades off to raise a family. My older siblings always had their noses in books when I was a child.

Perhaps I owe my background for a propensity for learning. It’s not the only edge for which I owe a debt of gratitude to my circumstances.

Great thinker Morgan Housel identifies the sources of advantage in business, including communicating more effectively than the competition, having more empathy for clients and employees than the competition, and having a longer time horizon – more patience – than the competition.

The unusual time demands and difficult logistics I faced during Cathy’s long struggle made communications a necessary centerpiece of our work. Before 2015 I didn’t know how to tweet or post on LinkedIn or publish a blog or make videos. It helped that our institutional partner, LPL Financial, had (and has) a leading edge philosophy about 21st century communications. Circumstances led us to our current capabilities.

Anyone who has engaged as a caregiver understands how empathy and patience go to new levels as a result of the experience. Again, circumstances helped shape me.

Clients, we are going to keep on making the most of it – striving to build on advantages and overcome obstacles and shape the future. It applies both to my life and our work for you. If you would like to talk about this, or anything else, please email us or call.

This Land is Your Land

canstockphoto6823114

I have an interest in some land adjacent to the Platte River, near my home. A fairly extensive parcel, it includes small lakes, good places to have a picnic or campfire or pitch a tent, and lovely hiking paths.

Have you ever been mesmerized by the sight of moving water? Ripples on a pond, waves on a lake, or a river flowing seem to connect with us on a deep level. This land offers ample opportunity for inspired introspection.

Walking it in different seasons provides a different experience every time. The leaves of the cottonwoods provide early color in the spring, spring and summer breezes murmur through them, and autumn winds make them rattle as they turn yellow and dry out, before they fall. When bare of leaves, the cottonwoods stand vividly against purple winter dawns and red sunsets.

The time I spend on this land promotes my well-being in every dimension: physically, emotionally, spiritually.

The other day I wondered how much it would cost to buy the parcel today. I was grateful that there is no need to do that; it would be quite expensive.

The interesting thing is, I never bought it, not any fraction of it. My interest in it arises from a state park annual pass. The pass covers the Louisville State Recreation Area, 65 other recreation areas, eight state parks and nine historical parks. Each of us has the same right to it, whether we leave a large mansion or a small apartment to access its wonders. Clients, the twenty states you live in each have something similar.

As we enjoy the present and plan for the future, we benefit ourselves by finding and taking advantage of the opportunities to enrich our lives that are free or nearly so. The ability to be cheaply amused, a valuable trait, is a great one to cultivate.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

All or Nothing

© Can Stock Photo / agencyby

We keep hearing reasons why financial advisors should have 100% of every client’s invested assets, instead of some fraction. This theory is popular with… financial advisors.

You might guess we have a contrarian opinion on this subject, like most subjects. Our theory is that we end up with all the business we deserve. Since you who own the money are the judge of that, we are relieved of the burden of worrying about it. We don’t want any money in our shop that doesn’t want to be here, after all.

There are sound reasons to consolidate assets in one place – including lower costs through volume discounts. But some may prefer not to do that, for whatever reason.

Our investment approach is different than most. Rather than use the standard pie chart approach of owning a little bit of everything, or outsourcing investment management to some third party somewhere, we do hands-on research and our own thinking, using individual securities as appropriate. So our work is a useful diversification, something different, from run-of-the-mill conventional portfolio management using investment products instead of stocks and bonds.

When somebody wants to allocate a fraction of their wealth to our care, it is fine by us. We already know how much business we will ultimately end up with: all that we deserve.

It turns out that remembering whose money it is not only respects the people who engage with us, but also reduces our stress.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

The Gong Show, Seminar Edition

© Can Stock Photo / dutourdumonde

I spend most of my days working with you or for you on your investments and planning. A few days each year are spent at seminars and conferences, working to get better at working with you or for you.

It is great to find a new perspective or idea or tool that helps us with our work, especially delivered by an inspired and inspiring speaker. But sometimes things we see and hear are just not a good fit for our values and philosophies. The last seminar I attended had much that was helpful.

But the part that was not helpful was interesting. Reflecting on it, it had to do with a mismatch in philosophy.

One of the speakers was a consultant for a coaching outfit, one that works with financial advisors to help them grow their businesses. After the preliminaries, he began his presentation by asking attendees to visualize how much money they wanted to make, three years down the road, encouraging our ambitions. And then, write that number down in the notebook provided. Next, how many millions in client assets did we want, three years hence? Write that down.

Thinking about the future and setting goals is a familiar and valuable exercise. But it was what came next that made me think of The Gong Show.

(One of the first reality TV talent shows, The Gong Show featured amateur acts appearing before a panel of celebrity judges. A judge could end an audition by striking a loud gong.)

The next topic after the money exercise was about the importance of being client-focused. Before many words were said about how vital it is to be centered on clients, I heard the gong in my head and thought, “Too late. You already established that you are focused on money, not clients.”

We concluded long ago that the better off you are, the better off we are likely to be, down the road. So when I walk in the door of 228 Main each morning I think, “What can we do to grow the buckets?” Of course, that’s not the only thing. We also work on helping you use your resources in your real life, to spend well. It is all part of being better off. Our business objective is to improve your outcomes.

The better off you are, the better off we are likely to be. My income is a byproduct of how well or poorly we help you become better off. That fits the definition of client focus a lot more closely than having your results be a leftover effect of how much money I want to make.

There were other things in that seminar presentation that struck me as off, but if I had a gong I would not have heard them.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way

© Can Stock Photo / stokkete

Years ago, the Wall Street firm of E.F. Hutton advertised “We make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.” This tag line evoked a world of indepth research into securities and markets, and investment analysis by experienced professionals.

E.F. Hutton disappeared into a series of mergers, and making money the old-fashioned way is increasingly scarce. One popular theory now is that security selection does not matter, only the allocation of money across the different sectors of the market.

Combined with the idea that past patterns of volatility and past returns by sector should dictate what one should own for the future, many modern ‘investment advisors’ pay no attention to individual company stocks or bonds.

It seems to us that owning stock in a failing chain of department stores is a lot different than owning the world’s largest online retailer. A few automakers survived, hundreds did not. Buying a corporate bond for 50 cents on the dollar is a totally different proposition than selling it for 50 cents on the dollar. Owning some of everything is different than being selective.

Our experience says security selection DOES matter.

One of our strategies is to try to find ownership in great companies at decent prices, to buy and hold. Looking for cyclical companies at low points in the cycle is another strategy. And simply seeking bargains anywhere in the investment universe is a third.

This is not easy. Conditions are always uncertain. There are no guarantees. It takes a lot of effort and energy. There is no assurance that the old-fashioned way will make money, as E.F. Hutton claimed.

But we are trying.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.