The best prediction that I ever made was not a prediction at all. It was more of an observation. In the summer of 2019, I wrote about The Good Old Days and presented this idea: What if these are the days you will look back on and say “Remember when…?” As it turned out, compared to the pandemic and two bear markets that would follow, those do seem like the good old days.
My purpose in writing on the subject then was to nudge the reader to take proactive steps from a position of strength in preparing for what may come. What ensued over the following three years was unpredictable. But the advice to check in on risk, engage with your financial plan, and monitor your liquidity, was prudent.
Too much ink is spilled this time of year on predictions about what the market will do. Through no fault of their own, clients will ask their advisors to weigh in. “I know you don’t have a crystal ball but where will the S&P 500 end up this year?” I have no idea. But it’s understandable that clients have been coached to think this is what they should be asking. For advisors working with couples and families, any time spent trying to predict the unpredictable takes away from the superpower that we really have: INFLUENCE.
The ability to influence someone’s attitude toward money or change the way they talk to their spouse about finances has a compounding effect. It’s muscle that builds every time it is exercised. Predictions, on the other hand, are like Kryptonite. Get it right once and you have…what? The chance to try and get it right again next year. We grow weary over rarely being right and we end up with financial atrophy instead of strength. It’s a distraction and a set up for failure.
After a year like 2022, where the results were so much worse than 2019, how does an advisor use his or her superpower of influence? I am convinced that an advisor’s influence should be concentrated into one word that seems out of fashion and contrarian: OPTIMISM.
The ability to influence someone’s attitude toward money or change the way they talk to their spouse about finances has a compounding effect.DENNIS MORTON
In 2023, I am committed to influencing the people around me to live with optimism. I want their optimism for the future to be rooted in life experience. To recognize that they have made it through hard times before and are better for it, given the lessons learned. I want their financial optimism to stem from a thoughtful financial plan not a guess about where interest rates will be at year end.
My commitment to optimism comes from so many pessimistic conversations I had about the markets last year. If all you see are the daily movements of your portfolio and a barrage of negative headlines, life can be hard. You lose perspective. I vividly remember in October of last year on a dazzling Friday afternoon I sat in my office, staring out at the blue sky. I received a call from a client and we spoke about the bear market and how bleak things seemed to him. He lamented that he just wanted his balance to be back where it was at the beginning of the year. Then he said, “Dennis, when will the sun come out again?”
Maintaining optimism is what liberates us to use our financial resources in support of the life we want to live.DENNIS MORTON
I was floored. I knew that his financial plan was intact, that his portfolio would weather this trend. That didn’t matter to him, though. Focusing on what was out of his control had, in his mind, clouded over the sun.
Ever since that day, I have been rooting out the silver linings. Influencing clients to check back in on the plan we built together. A financial plan rooted in reality. A plan that contemplated the possibility of down years. There is work to do to bring that focus back to what is in our control. But the result is worth it.
For anyone who doesn’t have a plan, I am going to advocate optimism as a cure for paralysis. Do you feel like you don’t know what to do? If you feel frozen with decisions bearing down on you, let’s figure out the first step you can take to gain financial clarity. Let’s ground the optimism in your ability to make good decisions one step at a time. I encourage you to reach out at email@example.com or call me at 610-709-5072.