Many people are experiencing a heightened sense of uncertainty this year. The most obvious reason for this is the increase in consumer prices… or inflation. How many of your recent conversations have included: “Can you believe I spent [x] …filling my tank? …at the grocery store? …renting a car for vacation?”
Headline inflation (including food & energy prices) hit 9% in June, and with it the stock market (as measured by the S&P 500) tumbled over 8%, pulling it into bear market territory to close out the first half of 2022. Consumer confidence hit a 50-year low in July – worse than the numbers right after 9/11, worse than the financial crisis in 2008, or the beginning of the pandemic. This decline has been attributed to many issues including inflation, Covid fatigue, asset declines in the stock and bond markets, deep concern with matters such as climate change, and the war in Ukraine. Uncertainty and a lack of confidence can cause people to postpone decision making – or even exploration into potential options.
Are You Waiting For ‘Things to Look Better’ Before Moving Forward?
Our perspective is that an economic downturn creates an ideal time to look at your options. If all plans were made at the height of the market, people would doubt whether peak market decisions would stand the test of time. I designed our services intentionally to focus on financial planning first, portfolio management – if applicable – second. Before we invest a penny, it’s critically important to explore what each client requires of their assets and why. Together, we analyze the impact of various options on income taxes, the level of risk, cash flow, and ultimately life satisfaction. In my experience over the past 3 decades, clients feel less of a sense of urgency to invest during market downturns, thus making it an ideal time to review and assess where they stand in relation to where they want to be, or to stay.
One of the things I hear that causes people to hold back on planning is the fear that this will commit one to a certain course of action. Our clients have experienced something different: gaining perspective on one’s personal financial picture empowers one to see the impact of taking various paths. The Topics currently under consideration in various client engagements include: understanding the impact of buying or selling real estate, moving to a different state or retirement community, addressing estate planning (given the credit exemption sunset in 2025), and their ability to retire given the current downturn, to name a few. This ‘sneak peek’ is a time and money saver.
Planning is an Evergreen Effort
Planning is an evergreen effort and usually the one that clients are most engaged in during our regular meetings. We discuss both their lives and the markets and determine whether any adjustments need to be made in either plans or portfolio. We make sure that goal attainment is not drastically altered (given safety nets and considerations for market volatility). The headlines tell a different story – they cause people to freeze. This comes from a focus on what we cannot control. If we wait until life ‘feels’ certain before we take stock of where we are financially, we are likely to miss opportunities. Those opportunities might get us where we want to be or protect us from getting too far off course.
The feeling of relief that many clients have that things are ‘not as bad as we/I feared’ is something we hear frequently. Especially during times of uncertainty. Seeing a client leave an appointment with a smile on their face, refocused on the areas of life that fuel them is what fuels Erik and me to continue serving.
Contact us today and, together, we’ll work toward a bright future.