July 1, 2020

I want to start by thanking Linda for her last 10 years at our helm, highlighted by our regained independence as a 100% employee owned firm and the ushering in of the firm’s next generation of investment professionals. Most recently, another member of the firm’s next generation joined Clifford Swan in May and we named three other members of this cohort as new partners. The health of the firm has never been better; we are well positioned for the next chapter in the firm’s continuous journey.

As Linda passes the leadership baton of our 105-year-old investment counseling firm, one can’t help but pause for a moment to consider the number of crises, pandemics and periods of economic turmoil which have come and gone since our founders coined their new industry, investment counseling.

Today we find ourselves in another of these uncertain periods. Not since the Great Depression has such a wide swath of the population been negatively impacted in some fashion—economically, physically or culturally. It has not mattered in what corner of the globe you reside, your profession, or your economic standing; we have all been affected. No two people nor two families have been impacted in the same way nor to the same degree, and the path through this will be different for all.

While this a unique moment in time, from our vantage point as investment counselors some things are unchanged. Our clients still have aspirations and fears. The mathematics behind stock and bond valuations still hold true. And we are still shaped by experience and guided by mentors who have traveled similar roads. Since I was new to the industry when the 1987 crash occurred, those memories weren’t as enduring as the bursting of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. It was during that crisis that I was counseled about and challenged by the discipline of investing— the lesson was that, in the short-term, momentum and investor euphoria can drive stock prices far beyond their underlying fundamentals, so valuation discipline is important. Similarly, both the Great Recession and current crisis remind us of the value of investing in great companies which can provide a safe harbor. These companies, when you can find them, also bounce-back stronger as others fall away.

What is different? Our clients have different twists on the same objectives related to college saving, retirement planning, insurance, taxes, estate planning, and income generation, but the answers are often more complex and intertwined. As a firm, we are continually focused on expanding our ability to provide this sought-after guidance. Practically, we grow our capabilities by adding proven talent to our team, dedicating time to continued learning, and consulting and partnering with outside experts. Investments, in one form or another, are almost always at the heart of our guidance, so there too we are continuing to expand our competencies. As the list of available investment vehicles continues to expand, so too does our need to understand these options to determine which ones best help our clients achieve their goals.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “this, too, shall pass,” and it will. When viewed over longer time frames, the market is generally upwards sloping, despite shorter-term volatility. Our role is to financially and psychologically help navigate these storms with an approach that allows clients to take advantage of this longer-term trend.

I will leave a more detailed discussion about technology changes for another day except for a single observation; current events initially pushed young and old to adopt technology they might not have otherwise. But now, months later, many including us have discovered that there are real advantages and opportunities to incorporating new technology into our daily routines. We are excited by the potential to enhance our clients’ interactions with our firm. Along these lines, until we are able to safely meet face-to-face, at the very least, we can connect online.

In these unprecedented times, I hope you and your family are safe and healthy.

Download Article: Message From the CEO

The above information is for educational purposes and should not be considered a recommendation or investment advice. Investing in securities can result in loss of capital. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

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