long time horizon

A 100% Chance of Weather

photo shows a misty landscape, partly in light rain, partly in blue sky

Understanding the risks involved is an important part of decision-making. Most would agree, I think, because how can we make informed decisions without weighing the consequences?

What makes it tough, however, is that a lot of financial planning literature uses the word “risk” when they’re actually talking about volatility. It’s about as helpful as the local news personality letting us know that weather is ahead: “There’s a risk of weather today! Heads up, everyone.”

How would that possibly help us make informed decisions?

Instead of railing against the presence of weather—or gravity, or any other to-be-expected force!—we like to spend our energy paying attention to risks that can actually affect our long-term goals.

Recall that in our shop, risk assessment takes place with a long time horizon in mind. We believe that you should have the money you’ll require for the next 3–5 years invested outside of the market. (Short-term volatility is a risk during the short term.) If you’re parking your money with us for a longer time horizon (3+ years), here are some risks you can expect we will factor into our strategy:

  • Concentration risk. Too many eggs in one basket could spell trouble if the basket upsets.
  • Inflation risk. Over time, what’s the likelihood this investment can outpace inflation? Put another way, what’s the risk of losing purchasing power over time?
  • Investment risk. What’s the likelihood that this investment will substantially change for the worse as time goes on or that the players could go out of business?

How much risk a portfolio might endure depends on a number of factors—your investing time horizon being just about the biggest one. There are other types of course, but these are some of the main examples of the risks we’re attuned to.

Volatility isn’t one of them. We don’t “mitigate” weather by hiding in a burrow forever; we don’t react to short-term swings by pulling out. As if we could spell it out any plainer, here’s our periodic reminder: we live with volatility in the pursuit of long-term gains.

Clients, when you want to talk risks, time horizons, and goals, email or call.


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Resilient Parents, Resilient Wallets?

photo shows two silhouetted individuals

You’ve heard us talk before about the long run. We are all about the long run at 228 Main! Goals with their longest reasonable time horizon benefit from the space to flourish, in our opinion.

The way we and our families weather challenges might say something about our resilience—the capacity for “getting back up again.”

In fact, some research suggests that approaches to parenting may be related to future financial benefits for families and communities. It seems life costs more later for children who don’t have a chance to learn resilience.

How can parents help? The research suggests that the factors that matter most are how parents respond to their children and how parents set expectations and make demands. Together, these two forces help people learn and grow in a safe way.

Consider relationships you’ve witnessed in your life. Maybe you’ve met folks who “had every advantage” but were never challenged as children, or maybe people who had demands put on them as children but didn’t receive the feedback to feel safe enough to stretch themselves.

It turns out “sensitivity”—that is, responsiveness—in relationships can contribute to a person’s sense of stability. No matter one’s financial standing, a sense of stability can have impacts on our financial success: we may make very different decisions when we feel less confident about the future.

We don’t choose our first families, but I have a feeling we can help each other develop resilience at any point. Clear feedback and meaningful expectations? They may be tools to stronger relationships—and more resilient wallets.

Clients, we’re here for the long haul. Thank you for joining us.

Call or write, any time.


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Raphael, Donatello, da Vinci… Markelangelo?

photo shows paint jars and brushes on a painted surface

When you mow a lawn, or paint a wall, or run a race, every bit of effort moves you closer to the end. There is only progress. You see tangible, visible results: grass clippings pile up, or the paint covers more of the wall, or the finish line gets closer. 

Long-term investing is different. On nearly half of all days, the broad market averages go backward. This has also happened over whole years, about one out of four historically.  

When we paint a wall, there are no forces moving with us and wiping away one stroke of paint for every four we make! 

So in this respect, investing is more like creative work. An artist who paints might have to add layers over their earlier work to create the effect they want. They might even use a palette knife to—yep—remove paint and clear a space for something different. 

Maybe investing and creating both require a long view, guided by a vision of what might be. Both pursuits require the patience to work at it even when results come only in fits and starts. No guarantees in either arena, but we don’t know which ideas will pan out without the pursuit.

I’m no artist, but that sure is what investing feels like. 

A lap with the mower provides its own immediate feedback. When we make an investment, the early results could be positive or negative, and it may feel like a coin toss. Only as the months and years roll by do we see the fruits of our work. Some backward movement, sure, but we expect to see progress across the process. 

We cannot do this work for just anyone. It takes people who have perspective, the ability to take that long view, to have faith that we are on the right track even when temporary setbacks engulf us.

Fortunately, here at 228 Main we have the best clients in the world. We are grateful for you. 

If you would like to talk about progress toward your goals (or anything else), please email us or call. 


All investing includes risk including loss of principal.


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Raphael, Donatello, da Vinci… Markelangelo? 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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How to Live in Your Life

photo shows a red pencil and two options with checkboxes that read "today" and "tomorrow"

In the spring, we checked in with friends and family as work and school and much of life was in upheaval. Some folks were struggling more than others. We talked with one friend who sat through meetings in the office about how the switch to remote work was going to be handled when (not if) the team went that direction.

“I heard what they were saying, but I didn’t believe it,” our friend said. Within days, the team was out of the office. The friend was home three weeks before it finally sank in: work had gone remote.

Have you ever felt that way? Like your body has moved somewhere but your mind is refusing to catch up?

“It just feels like I’m waiting for Monday, like we’ll be back any day now,” the friend said.

The shock of change can have lots of effects on us, and we do not fault anyone going through this thought process. It made us wonder, though… What is the pandemic teaching us about time horizons?

You’ve heard this from us before: “long-term investing” is a little redundant. as we believe better chances for success lie in longer time horizons. It’s easy to outperform a strategy for short-term goals if you’re playing the long game.

2020 has been a months-long lesson in this perspective, hasn’t it? As spring turned to summer, a lot of folks had to come to grips with the idea that we could be in this situation for a while.

We are all about taking things one at a time, about taking life one day at a time—but how would our day-to-day change if we were geared toward the long term?

“I could be here a while…”

How could that phrase change your home life? Your retirement goals? Where you want to wake up each day? Your grocery and shopping routines?

Clients, what a time of change and reckoning we’re living through. But we’d like to help you do just that: live through it. Live in it.

When you’d like to talk about this or anything else, please write 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.

A MORE PERFECT UNION

picture of a roll of red and white "I VOTED" stickers

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”

So reads the Preamble to the Constitution, which frames the purpose of one of our nation’s fundamental documents.

The authors didn’t necessarily mean the plan was “flawless.” We’re not constitutional scholars, but a quick search will reveal that the word “perfect,” at the time, used this way, might have suggested something more like complete, confident, or whole.

In an election year, it can be hard to appreciate that idea. Party leaders insist on playing “spot the difference,” so our attention is often spent on divisions and comparisons.

Some people anticipate elections with anxiety about their holdings. They wonder how to “election-proof” their portfolio. History has some uplifting news for us here too. Again, it only takes a quick search to reveal that the outlook is generally okay immediately following a presidential election. Not “perfect” results or glorious returns, but generally okay.

No guarantees. Clients, we talk a lot about the long haul, and it is not measured in election cycles.

We are looking forward to an election season in which each of us can use our voices and exercise our rights, all in the name of improving this grand experiment, together.

We’ll see you on the other side, but in the meantime, call or write whenever you’d like to chat.

 

Pain and Gain

© Can Stock Photo / Anke

Great thinker Morgan Housel talks about the scene in Lawrence of Arabia in which one man snuffs a match out with his fingers and doesn’t flinch. Another tries it, yells in pain, and asks what the trick is. “The trick is not minding that it hurts.”

Housel concludes “accepting a little pain has huge benefits. But it will always be rare, because it hurts.”

The implication for our business with you is clear. Housel concisely states what we’ve been working to convey for years: “The upside when you simply accept and endure the pain from market declines is that future declines don’t hurt as bad. You realize it’s just part of the game.”

That you have learned this lesson, and tend to live by it even when it is uncomfortable is why we say you are the best clients in the world. We feel fortunate, because it is rare. Somehow we found or attracted people with effective investing instincts, or helped to instill those.

The key to making this work in the real world is avoiding the need to sell at bad times. Cash reserves and adequate cash flow are the things that let us live with short term fluctuations with our long term money.

When we are all on the same page, we spend less time worrying about, and explaining, day to day or week to week market action. Almost all financial market commentary may be summarized by saying “it goes up and down.”

This gives us time to hunt for bargains, think about trends on the horizon, and work on your plans and planning. All of these are more worthwhile uses of our time than attempting to explain why the market went up or down yesterday, or predict what it might do tomorrow.

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