More Than a Portfolio

By Geoff Schaefer

Geoff is a Wealth Advisor with Intergy Private Wealth. He writes for The Steadfast Fiduciary to help people live with an abundant heart, open mind, and boundless generosity.

December 22, 2022

Earlier this month, a story was released that detailed the retirement of Andrew Luck.  Any sport’s fan will recognize the name quickly as he was an elite level quarterback who retired early in a move that surprised the football world. It details his rise to success in football, his personal struggles off the field, his search for joy and long-lasting meaning.  At one point in the narrative, Andrew is having a conversation with a therapist when it was asked of him, “Aren’t you more than a quarterback?”  This conversation was pivotal for Luck as he transitioned from a life that was all about football and in some ways, created around him to a life that he could shape and a journey he could set out on along with his family.

I read this story, one I consider one of the best of year in sports, first as football fan.  I reread it as a financial planner thinking back on the journey our clients have been on since 2020.  Early 2020 started with a strong economy, even stronger stock market and nothing but bright outlooks.  Rumors of a virus were spreading, but nothing too worrisome as we rung in the new year.  By March all of that changed.  We went into an immediate lockdown and the stock market saw a nearly 30% drop in the matter of a couple of months. In just as dramatic of fashion, the market recovered and roared to all-time highs. Investing seemed easy. All stocks went up. The risker the stock the better the returns.  Crypto currencies became the topic of daily conversation and rumors of it supplanting gold swirled. Companies making themselves to public to investors for the first time saw double digit growth in the matter of days…  Then 2022 brought it all back down to earth. Inflation high and interest rates rising brought back portfolio realities some claimed were all but gone. As of today, the market is sitting at just over a 16% decline in the second worst year for a diversified stock and bond portfolio in history. The ecstasy of all-time highs came quickly into check with a jolt of reality that left investors wondering if their portfolios could continue to withstand the therapy they were being forced to undergo.

It’s here where I draw the parallels to Andrew Luck.  When faced with a portfolio drawdown and a year of seemingly endless negative news, let’s ask ourselves, “Is our financial plan more than a portfolio?”

In this career, financial planners are often thought of as synonymous with portfolio managers. While most financial planners do wealth management, your typical portfolio manager is not doing financial planning.  Financial planning is, at its core, a deeply human exercise. Yes, portfolios are involved, risks are measured, financial products must be used, but true planning pushes far beyond a risk questionnaire. A financial plan is a current realization of one’s desired future state. It is thinking and dreaming of the future and transforming those thoughts into actionable steps to take now.  Financial planning understands that sending children to college might push retirement a few years back.  It understands that charitable giving is not always about the tax deduction.  Financial planning can help pay off debt to ease stress, even though mathematically it makes sense to invest elsewhere.  Financial planning allows you to understand when you are saving enough, and celebrates as you responsibly spend more on family vacations over time.  Budgets may vary month to month, insurance needs change, portfolio values can fluctuate, and a steadfast plan aids in navigating the course in every instance.

In life, we often attempt to know the unknowable.  The future never reveals itself to any of us, until it manages to reveal itself to all of us. While financial pundits rave on tv and in newspaper about economic outlooks and price targets for inflation and the stock market, they would be lying to themselves and you if they claimed to know more.  I believe that as we look back on the year and our financial plan, we can anchor to the knowable.  We can anchor to a mission statement that drives your family forward. Maybe it’s growing the best business in the industry or being a better dad to your kids than your dad was to you.  Maybe it’s buying a home with land since you love the outdoors, or being in a financial position to work part time and volunteer at an organization you care about by the time you are 45.  No matter the plan, what we can do in all of these instances is know.  We know our values and our desired future state. With time and the right steps, we cannot guarantee, but build toward that future. A financial plan is the guide.

As we wrap up the year, and are spending time with family, perhaps we take a moment and think like Andrew Luck, was he a guy that could throw a ball well or did he value his family, his kindness, his intellect, his ability to teach much much more?  If market volatility and economic uncertainty have taken hold and inch your stress levels higher, let’s ask ourselves, “Is my financial plan more than a portfolio?”  If you ask yourself that and manage to be blessed enough to be standing near your spouse, parents, siblings, or children at the time, I think you’ll have your answer.

Merry Christmas everyone!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe For New Posts

From retirement planning, investment strategies, tax optimization, to estate planning, sign up to get new articles delivered to your inbox.

You May Also Like…

A College Graduate’s Guide to Financial Planning

A College Graduate’s Guide to Financial Planning

You have your degree, now what? College graduation is an exciting time.  It’s an educational milestone and a great time to celebrate with friends and family.  After the week or so of celebratory events, there is an inevitable realization that your first day...

read more
Thoughts From a Busted Bracket

Thoughts From a Busted Bracket

"And when it’s done,win or lose,you always did your best,cuz inside you knew…One Shining Moment, You reached for the sky,One Shining Moment​, You knew,One Shining Moment, you were willing to try,One Shining Moment…." -Luther Vandross (This song is one of my favorite...

read more
How to Invest When the Market is at All-time Highs

How to Invest When the Market is at All-time Highs

Have you ever wanted to invest, but stopped short by asking yourself this question? “The market is pretty rough right now, maybe I should wait until it recovers before investing.” Then you wait… and you end up asking the following question: “The market is at all time...

read more