Holiday Letter 2022

As I wrote this in the run-up to the holiday season, markets seemed to be on the mend from the bear that started January 3rd, the air was coming out of the inflation balloon, and talk of recession probabilities was the new crisis du jour (it ALWAYS has to be something).

The biggest surprise to me is always that anyone is surprised by these things.

For 13 years prior to the beginning of 2022, we saw the S&P 500 compound at an eye-popping 17.5% – it had to breathe eventually. The last few years, gains were fueled by both monetary and fiscal overstimulation – inflation and the raising of rates were always possible, but quickly became inevitable with all the money sloshing around the system.

Finally, the media beast survives on clicks, so even if there were nothing to talk about, they would have to invent something or no one would click. So headlines lurch from crisis to crisis without skipping a beat. Whether there’s a recession or not matters little to the goal-focused, planning-driven investors like us. They happen. They pass. We can’t time them. End of story.

Everything in the market and economic world appears to me to be, dare I say it… normal.

Personally, I am feeling really good about the future again. The return to my optimistic self has been a long hard slog of self-discovery and re-learning to trust the universe after Dave died in June 2021. But, where to start?

Perhaps with a brief update about the merger. We transitioned advisory services from Mindful Money to EP Wealth on December 28th, 2021. We spent the first 3-6 months of 2022 getting to know new systems, people, and processes. We gained access to two new custodians and new tools for Medicare planning, estate planning, and tax planning.

Along with expanding our menu of services, our events are back in full rotation, and the Berkeley office added over 40 families to our client community. It wasn’t all roses, but we are through it and enjoying a record year for our office. I am so grateful I get to work with John, Gail, Scott, David, and Carrie in Berkeley as well as with Andrea Grumley and Monica Van Eck (planning) and Gennifer Takacs and Avetis Yetenekyan (portfolio management).

The Mindful Money Weekly has changed. It is focused on education and group-coaching for those just starting to think about these topics. I’m more focused on the personal journey behind financial success. If you don’t receive it, subscribe HERE. All are welcome.

Kate is still working on strategic initiatives in the President’s office of the Presidio Graduate School and attempting to complete the Bay Area Ridge Trail with a small band of hikers. Annie started high school this year. She does everything – mountain biking, swimming, junior rangers, theater, and she just started soccer again. Eli keeps doing music and theater.  His soccer team accomplished a first for CPS this year – they finished the season undefeated, won their league, and won the NCS Championship. Eli was named Defensive Player of the Year. He is deep in the college application process.

Both kids had Covid this year, but somehow Kate and I avoided it. But, I did have a different scare.

In late October, I had a mystery infection for which my doctor prescribed a long course of a very aggressive antibiotic. It worked… then it turned on my liver. A follow up blood test the morning of Nov. 30th led my doctor to recommend a trip to the ER. I ended up spending 4 days and 3 nights in the hospital – getting 23 different blood tests, an ultra-sound, a CT scan, and an MRI – before ultimately confirming the antibiotic was the culprit.

I learned two lessons:

  1. I don’t mean to pile on, but our medical system is in need of a major overhaul (broken).
  2. If you need to have blood drawn, early a.m. while you are asleep is a great way to do it.

I got out of the hospital at 10:00 a.m. on the day we hosted David Glotzer’s family and friends for his retirement party. I was so happy I was able to attend – the stories that were shared made me love the man all the more. He is one of the most authentic, wise, and heart-felt men I have ever met. I am looking forward to the next chapter of working with him and Charlotte as clients.

I am happy to report that EP Wealth continues the giving tradition. Each of us has 8 hours of paid volunteer work every year and our Northern CA office chose 6 charities to support this year. Among them was one of my favorites – The Berkeley Food and Housing Project. They are also very active with their Investing in Women and High School Financial Literacy initiatives.

You’ve been busy as well. Our client family has embraced the return to live events. We’ve seen participation increase over prior years. Among you, there have been 3 newborns: 1 child and 2 grandchildren. You took advantage of the last year of ultra-low interest rates: 9 new homes were purchased, and 3 remodels were completed. Sadly, 3 clients lost parents this year and there were 2 divorces. 2 of you joined the ranks of published authors, 1 of you sold a business, and another 1 retired (2, if you count David Glotzer).

From deep within my 3rd decade doing this work, I am grateful for the opportunity to help such wonderful people plan for and achieve lives of purpose and meaning. I love working with our small Berkeley team. I am enjoying the expanded resources that EP brings to the table. I remain protective of the community we have built together. And I count myself lucky to be a part of it all.

May you and your loved ones be warm, safe, happy, and healthy this holiday season and throughout the coming year.

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