“These chairs are very uncomfortable!!”. “Oh”, we thought in our minds. And after our visitor had left, we chatted about the comment and wondered how many others felt the same way about our chairs but were too shy to mention something to us. At the beginning of this year, as we did our ‘List of Ten’ for our business (more on that later), we thought again about the comment on the chairs. Each year, we try to improve on our client experience which might be adding to the office décor to allow it to be more pleasant; replacing software to provide clearer client communication; or sprucing up the entrance to our office and surrounding grounds. But no-one had ever mentioned our visiting chairs! After a short discussion, and without further ado, the chairs went on the list of items that we can improve. But now the dilemma is… “what type of chair do we replace them with?”. And again, we are wondering to ourselves – “just how many people really did find them uncomfortable but never said a word?”.
We didn’t realize our ‘List of Ten’ resonated with many of our clients until someone mentioned the article in a conversation at the beginning of this year. For those who have never reviewed the original write-up, the following is a revised summary: On a day early in January, my spouse and I sit down and write respective lists of things we ‘hope’ to accomplish within the year. We call it a Reset. One of the rules is that the list may not number more than ten. They are not resolutions; we are not (that we are aware of) trying to have some type of life changing event. Another rule for our lists: no looking back at what we wrote last year. We feel that if one of last year’s ideas was important, it would have been accomplished or it will pop up on our list again this year. Once we have completed our list, we try to prioritize it – sometimes the last thing we have written ends up as our number one priority. Lastly, we exchange our lists. What is interesting: We seldom have many matches. Once we both wrote the same goal in the first slot; that was an unusual year. If you’d like to read more about the Reset process, click here. And, as I write this, I am aware that we all do not have a partner in life. But hopefully there is a friend that would be interested in tracking/sharing goals for the year with you.”
We try to verify & double check all the writing that we do – including our lists. While reading about our goals and verifying our thoughts, we came across this piece by Bruce Kasanoff. Hopefully you will find it as inspirational as we do.
We often feel as we read the news that the U.S. economy and the government are repeating their respective lists each month. The list is as such: Have China sign the trade agreement; verify current trade agreements with other countries; what’s-up with the labor pool, etc. It appears that we may now have one item on the trade list being checked off with the recent news that the U.S. and China will be signing phase one mid-month. And with the beginning of the new year, we have a few economists feeling that the current expansion could last a few more years. Although it seems that the 2020 survey of business leaders has contrarian thoughts in regard to the previous optimism. The 2020 survey reported that they are having lingering concerns on not only talent shortages but of a possible recession both globally and in the U.S. It did not help that the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) reported on Jan. 3rd that the ISM index had contracted for the fifth straight month. The 2020 Market Outlook by Charles Schwab provides a nice summary on the split preceding thoughts. The outlook highlights key arguments and “if this, then that” scenarios concerning consumer spending, services activity, and the resolution of the U.S. trade war.
Our international list/script has changed with the awareness of the Brexit waters and the political turnaround of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Andrew Pease, global head of investment strategy for Russell Investments, noted in his 2020 Outlook that there could be a global mini-cycle recovery in 2020. We, here at White Raven Financial, are excited for what this new decade may bring us in the markets. We are looking for new sustainable investment ideas, both nationally and internationally, and working toward the goal of what fits best in your portfolio and your risk tolerance.
December rounded up the major markets with the best of presents – the major market hit record highs for a third month in a row. The blue-chip barometer (the Dow)* package came with a green ribbon ending the month with a 1.74% gain. The S&P 500 (SPY)* added a bow in deeper shades of green and posted a 2.86% gain. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* was all decked out with ribbons and bows adding 3.54% for the month. (*After linking, click on Quarterly & Monthly Total Returns, “Monthly” tab.) On Tuesday, November 26th, the Dow Jones Indices released the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller report. The 20-city composite Home Price Index in October reported a 2.2% annual gain; a 0.1% gain from the previous month year-over-year posting. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of October showing a 0.1% increase over the prior month of September for the 20-city composite index.
Regards and thank you,
The Team at White Raven Financial
*Indexes are unmanaged and do not reflect service fees, commissions, or taxes. You cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Return for the DOW, S&P500 and the NASDAQ is the total return (price only) provided by Morning star Inc. as of 2019December31. Diversification and asset allocation do not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment loss.
*The Standard and Poor’s 500 is an unmanaged, capitalization weighted benchmark that tracks broad-based changes in the U.S. stock market. This index of 500 common stocks is comprised of 400 industrial, 20 transportation, 40 utility, and 40 financial companies representing major U.S. industry sectors. The index is calculated on a total return basis with dividends reinvested and is not available for direct investment.
*The Dow Jones Industrial Average covers 30 blue chip U.S. companies selected by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The Dow represents about 25% of the NYSE market capitalization and less than 2% of NYSE issues.
*The NASDAQ is a market-value weighted index that measures all NASDAQ domestic and foreign common stocks.