As we near the end of 2021 I’d like to start by wishing all our readers a very Happy New Year. It’s my hope you’ll find success in your resolutions, and that 2022 is good to you and your families.
Around this time last year, I put together a Financial Advisor’s Holiday Wish List for this blog. I thought it would be interesting to look back and see how things turned out a year later.
Smooth and Average Market Returns
In December 2020, I wrote, “If anything is certain, it is that I will not be getting this one, but one can dream right?”. Boy was that wrong! Not only have we seen a relatively smooth positive trend in global equities, but as of my writing the global stock index is up nearly 20% year to date. That is about twice the long-term average return.
Stable / Low Interest Rates
This is another that held mostly true for 2021. Mortgage rates and consumer loans remained low and provided people an opportunity to refinance or access cheap credit. However, we can expect this to change in 2022. As inflation has kicked up, the Federal Reserve recently announced plans to accelerate the end of their bond purchasing program, setting the stage for rate increases. We would expect that to put upward pressure on loan rates. On the investment side of things, the bond market started to price this in during 2021. We saw intermediate and long-term bond prices decline as a result. Shorter term bonds, like the ones we hold in client portfolios, fared slightly better, but are still down year to date.
Good Financial Habits
This one is a bit more difficult to measure with a returns chart. My wish was that everyone implements one small change that would lead to a better financial situation for them. Obviously, this varies greatly based on the individual situation, so you’ll have to score yourself at home. My change was to get more organized with tracking my discretionary spending. My wife and I put together a monthly goal for each of us and our family spending. I reviewed my credit card statements each month to track and categorize the expenses. We didn’t always hit the goal, but the awareness was certainly helpful. I said it then, and I’ll repeat it now, every little bit helps, and it only takes small changes to have a big impact over the long-term.
A COVID Vaccine
This last item on my wish list was a life saver, quite literally. Not only did we get a vaccine, but we got three of them that have proven to drastically limit the spread and severity of COVID. I think we will look back on this time and marvel at the human ingenuity that went into developing a viable vaccine and distributing it across the world in record time. There is still a lot of work left to do, but as the worldwide vaccination rate climbs, we should be able to look forward to a post COVID world.
In summary, I’d say most of my 2021 wish list exceeded expectations. We never know what the future may hold, but we do know with a well thought out financial plan and disciplined execution strategy we will be well equipped to deal with any challenges that come our way.