Tactics

Do We Reap What We Sow? Some Notes on Trust

photo shows rows of corn with the sun rising behind them

I’m reflecting on an experience a friend had recently, one of those unexpected and painful situations that leave you reeling. This may sound “personal” and not “business,” but you already know there is only one integrated Mark. And this bears on our work with you.

There is an element of trust in all of our doings. Whether I’m working with you or with another business owner in beautiful downtown Louisville, we have to trust that each of us is going to work to get on the same page and stay on the same page. We’re all in this together, after all.

Our historic building here at 228 Main—once headquarters to The Louisville Courier—is in its second century. When repairs are needed, I have to trust the person I hire to do what they say they will do. They have to trust that I will pay as agreed.

It gets a little stickier when it’s not clear what is being bought and sold. A service you’ve never sought out before, a sales professional you’ve never worked with… These can feel like uncharted waters. And it can feel adversarial with one party on one side, one on the other.

When we feel like we have to defend our own interests, it is harder to remember that both sides usually want the same thing—an agreement.

That agreement may be richer if we can rely upon each other for perspective and guidance. But to do so, we have to accept that we’re working together, each seeking to understand the other. We can formulate a better agreement if we’re not on two warring teams.

In high-trust situations, we end up not only with a good deal that’s mutually beneficial. We can sometimes also end up with a warm relationship with another human being, in all their interesting particularities.

“Business at the speed of trust” is a thing. The price of not trusting is a cynical, legalistic approach to everything. It’s defensive and less collaborative in spirit.

And sometimes, when we come across a hurting human, we pay the price for trust. It’s getting sucker-punched! It’s finding that the topping on the coffee is shaving cream, not whipping cream.

I’m sorry that my friend had to pay that price recently. The hurt is real. Real and worth it, in my opinion, as the price of trusting in general. A lot like the price of loving, or the price of friendship, or any other human interaction where we are vulnerable.

If there are two ways of being, we try to practice the one that opens us to more trust, more love, more connections—a better happier life and once in a long while, a punch in the nose. It’s not okay to lash out of course, but we don’t control the emotions and actions of others. We put ourselves out there and see what happens. We help ourselves recover and get whole, then we try again.

Clients, I will strive to be conscious of the blessings of our mutual trust, and I strive to be worthy of yours. Thank you for engaging with us—and reach out when there is anything you need to acquaint us with.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

Do We Reap What We Sow? Some Notes on Trust 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

This text is available at https://www.228Main.com/.

What Do I Do with All These Retirement Accounts? Some IRA Strategies and Tactics

photo shows a group of pink piggy banks on a blue surface

There is no law against having more than one retirement account. But it is possible to take this too far—and get yourself a headache down the road. Instead, we’d like to suggest some IRA strategies and tactics that may help.

One person we know is dealing with Required Minimum Distributions (or RMDs) on four accounts in different institutions. Another, recently widowed, is faced with seven sets of IRA beneficiary claim forms in order to consolidate things. And many others have to struggle to understand the overall situation because information about different accounts comes in different forms at different times.

We help by consolidating smaller accounts in various locations into a larger, central account where total values are reported each month and are available online any time. RMDs, beneficiary claims, and other administrative tasks only need to be handled one time instead of many times.

There may be an edge, too, in having an intentional investment strategy that guides all tactical decisions, based on sound principles. In our diversified portfolios, we are able to select the precise source of funds when needed from among dozens of holdings. And we know which options are at the top of our list whenever new money becomes available to invest.

We believe this is a superior approach than just putting money in or taking it out of “the market,” although we can offer no guarantees.

And none of this is to mention that the quality of our advice and perspective might be improved when we’re able to understand all the pieces of the puzzle.

At the end of the day, organizing our abundance is a pretty wonderful problem to have. Wealth seems to be more useful when we understand its meaning, what it can do for us in our real lives. So if you would like to visit about this or anything else, please email us or call.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

What Do I Do With All These Retirement Accounts? Some IRA Strategies and Tactics 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

This text is available at https://www.228Main.com/.

For One Life Only!

photo shows rows of lights below a marquee

There are restless spirits all around us. The neighbor that seems to be racing everywhere they go, the friend that seems addicted to making big changes. There are people who make us wonder, “When will it be enough?”

Sometimes we are those people. Sometimes we look down only to realize we’re on a treadmill. But here’s the good news: there are plenty of ways to get our needs met, to not want for anything and to not be wrapped up in the wanting. We talk a lot about helping clients put words to their dreams, but dreams need not be lofty. Here are a few guidelines that have proven helpful.

“The right amount is best.” In her book Lagom, writer Niki Brantmark describes this Swedish principle of the same name. Not enough is not enough. Too much of a good thing can be a good thing, but often is not. The right amount is best.

Social comparison, or “keeping up with the Joneses” can corrode happiness or financial health, if we aren’t conscious of our emotions and purposeful about our responses and reactions. It helps to focus on our own needs, rather than what others have. (And I doubt the Joneses care what you have anyway.)

When working on goals, it sometimes helps to define three outcomes: minimum acceptable levels, reasonable targets that feel within reach, and “stretch” goals that require creative thinking and approaches to get to. This may help you be more aware of options and possibilities.

Life is not a cage, and we are not doomed to the hamster wheel. We are each the star of our own personal drama, and we get to decide what works.

Get your ticket, one life only!

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


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

A Thanksgiving Message: On Giving Thanks When It Matters

Won’t you join me? I’m getting in the spirit! A little personal reflection for this fine holiday week.

Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

An Attitude of Gratitude: Get Yourself a Slice

photo shows a small heart pendant with the words "i am grateful"

The Harvard Medical School published an essay some time ago on the power of gratitude, explaining:

“Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Relish, improve, deal, build… Those are verbs we can get behind! Gratitude can be about past blessings, current conditions, or reflect a hopeful and optimistic attitude about the future. One of the best things about an attitude toward gratitude is that it can be cultivated.

In one cited study, three groups of people were directed to write a few sentences each week. One group was instructed to write about irritations or things that had displeased them. The second was directed to write about things that had affected them. The third group was directed to focus on things that had happened for which they were grateful.

After ten weeks, one group was more optimistic about life, and had a greater sense of wellbeing. (That group also happened to exercise more and make fewer visits to the doctor.) You can guess which.

We believe there are interesting implications for the work we do together with you. Short-term fluctuations in the markets may cause irritation, but gratitude for long-term returns might give us a broader perspective. The economy and markets always seem to be a mixed bag, but gratitude for opportunities may help us avoid a focus on problems that might prevent us from investing effectively.

At the heart of all this is a simple truth, that we get to choose what gets our attention. Does choosing gratitude make us healthier, wealthier, and wiser? No guarantees, but we might have more fun while we find out together.

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


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

An Attitude of Gratitude: Get Yourself a Slice 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

This text can be found at https://www.228Main.com/.

Constellations and Connectivity

photo shows stars in a galaxy

Life in the 21st century can be grand, huh? We’ve got a few things in our research efforts that are proving quite exciting.

Maybe you’re seeing some of the connections, too?

Of all the news, of all the opportunities available, we’re seeing some common threads—ones that may very well be investable.

Specifically, regarding our tech, our platforms, our power: we’re excited about the potential for faster, more efficient connectivity that could drive future growth in the uses we enjoy from our devices… and then ones we can’t yet imagine!

No recommendations, no guarantees, but… it’s interesting.

New tech is one part of this story. We’re welcoming the latest generation of OLED TVs, smartphone screens that flex and fold, and a form of lighting even more efficient than LED. One company dominates the patents and research and royalties for this stuff.

The second bright spot we’re watching: there’s a social media company (that is not in political trouble and not headed by a controversial billionaire). Per Marketscope Research, its earnings are expected to double each year for the next three. No guarantees, of course.

Another dot: certain sector-leading companies are trading at a discount to the market average valuation. In fields from biopharma to grocery stores, from retail health to food processing, their recent dividends indicate yield between 2 and 3%. Further, it costs $10 billion to build a new semiconductor foundry, and the leading provider of custom chip manufacturing has more than 50% of this growing and vital market. It’s not nothing.

Keep in mind it’s going to take a lot of copper—more than we’ve ever mined before—to build out the next energy revolution. It will include solar and batteries and electric vehicles, and stock in two large miners is still trading well below the levels they reached ten years ago.

Clients, we spend more time and thought than ever before in reading and thinking and researching, trying to sort out investable opportunities to grow wealth in this unfolding future.

We’ll have hits and misses and ups and downs; investing can be volatile. But it sure is fun to try to spot these brightest constellations in the investment universe.

Want to talk about this or anything else? Write or call, any time.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

This text is available at https://www.228Main.com/.

How to Invest to Beat Inflation

photo shows an inflated dollar bill with a blue pin sticking out of it

The rising cost of living is in the news these days. After years of trying to raise the rate of inflation to 2%, the Federal Reserve is struggling with how to reduce it from even higher levels (not surprisingly, in our view).

We are not expecting hyperinflation; we don’t foresee a ruinous and sudden destruction of the dollar. But we know that persistent, rising inflation caused problems that vexed policymakers and people from the Nixon administration through Ford and Carter to Reagan.

And that could happen again.

After forty years of falling inflation, after a decade of near-zero interest rates, after rising budget deficits under presidents of both parties, after years of accomodative monetary policy by the Federal Reserve… it makes sense to invest with inflation in mind.

What does this mean? We have ideas, but no guarantees. The future is a place no one has been yet.

Our strongest conviction is about what not to buy: investments of any duration with fixed interest rates. Bonds not maturing for 10 to 30 years, paying in the 1% to 3% range, strike us as being excessively risky. If rates rise as investors demand more to offset inflation, the value of lower-rate bonds will decline.

What will a 2% bond be worth in a 4% world? (Hint: something below its face amount.)

Beyond that, ownership of things—in other words, equity—may benefit from rising prices. If prices for goods and services rise, companies that produce goods and services may see earnings rise. Imagine it. If a can of beans cost, say, $10 instead of $1, the food processor may have proportionately higher earnings.

Further, we notice that stock in producers of natural resources have sometimes proved to be a hedge against inflation, as commodity prices rise.

So, although inflation disrupts and distorts commerce, and stock prices will be volatile (as always), it may be better to own stock in companies rather than bonds. Stocks may rise as earnings rise. No guarantees, of course, and down years will occur from time to time, as always.

Clients, we’ve been working on these ideas for years. If you would like to talk about how they apply to your own portfolio, 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.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

This text can be found at https://www.228Main.com/.

Designing the Future

Tastes come and go. It’s never bothered me much, as I’d rather sit and watch the fads go by than participate.

Thinking more lately about my home, and its gorgeous mid-century modern style, has me wondering about what makes a style last. I don’t know that anybody’s born with “good taste,” so it must be something in the design that makes the difference, huh?

A sound design—an actual plan—isn’t the same as a touch-up. Anybody can change the drapes or paint a wall. These are surface-level changes. They don’t change the shape of things or how a person might move through this life.

A designer needs to know about the heart of the issues. They might ask…

  • How do you want to use this space?
  • How do you want to feel when using this space?
  • What are your needs now, and what needs do you anticipate?

These questions are sounding familiar. They are fundamental to our conversations about your money and your life!

I’m no designer, but I like the idea that there may be fundamental principles to sound design and to sound financial planning. We collaborate, get the crucial elements on the table, and then get to work.

Maybe I’ve got more style than I thought!

… But maybe I’ll stick to the basics, just to be sure.

Clients, when we need to come back to the plan or think about its design, please write or call.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below: