Late on March 31st a bold headline was posted on the financial website Bloomberg, “Losing 5% was Best you could do in stocks and bonds this quarter”. As you’ll see below our results were better than the “best” and this isn’t to boast – it’s only a grateful result of our purposeful care and prudence in portfolio design. As well I’ll explain in a moment why account statements now show the name of SWM’s principal where previously you saw only my name … a natural transition which we can all welcome.
We’ve had no shortage of news in first-quarter 2022. Key topics: everyone has been talking and the news is filled with Ukraine’s rigorous resolve against Putin’s war machine, ongoing concerns of covid (26M locked down in Shanghai), inflation of housing prices, energy, and food (trend will ease in second-half 2022), and plans to regain a normal life with travel and such.
Let’s go with this lighter topic first. Some remain hesitant to travel at all while others may already this year have taken two or more trips: eg. ocean cruises, Caribbean, Disneyland. You’ve told me of bookings for this summer and 2023 and you’re ready to pack up and head out. For the rest of us I suggest either: (i) ponder the most memorable and cherished moments of travel you have enjoyed in the past; collect and hold those memories to help decide the experiences or places that will rank highest as you start to travel again. Or (ii) consider some places that interest and intrigue but you’ve never yet been there: imagine the landscape, activities to enjoy, foods you will savour, music and culture: how can these rise into your upcoming travel plans?
As you’ll see in today’s pictures here we could pick a theme about travel and start drafting our future travel experiences. One theme could be mountains; I love to quietly survey the breathtaking views while standing “on top of the world”. In Canada I would include the Tablelands in Nfld, Mont Megantic in PQ, Blue Mountain perhaps in ONT, Sulphur Mountain at Banff in AB; Mount Revelstoke and of course Whistler in BC, or a hill named Mount Tolmie of my Victoria childhood. Our farther travels have included Mount Foia in Portugal, Arenal volcano in Costa Rica, Machu Picchu in Peru, various heights in Europe, and some distinctly mountainous climbing on the great wall of China. You’d think I had retired already but it was only for a few weeks at a time – occasional brief retirements – coming home re-invigorated to continue serving Life and Wealth for each of you, my client-family.
I’m intrigued to learn from you; if you haven’t told me already, where will some of your upcoming travels take you, and what are you looking forward to enjoying there?
War in Europe.
In this first major war in central Europe since 1945 it has been an unspeakably difficult time for so many: increased militarization, 4 million refugees and at least 6 million more internally displaced, urgently needing food, shelter, medical care … not to mention covid protocols taking a back seat to the conflict, and severe damage to an agricultural breadbasket that until now fed up to a third of the world’s population.
Being safe here in Canada and taking in this news, we ourselves have cause for personal gratitude but also generosity to share in easing pain and sustaining life through whatever organizations we choose, such as Red Cross, UNHCR, Canada Ukraine Foundation, faith and other groups with a direct presence on the ground where needs are greatest. I have personally never been more grateful to pay taxes and make charitable contributions – and some may sharply disagree with me but this is my personal feeling – that in our world today we are privileged to be able to support the defense of an innocent nation and share to sustain hope among their families and citizens. The world would soon be swallowed into greater dangers (even Canada’s arctic) if we echoed UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s mutterings in 1938 about peace in our time, shirking the “quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing” … which horribly foreshadowed the world conflict of 1939-1945.
Q.1 FINANCIAL RESULTS.
Now my 25th year publishing this letter, I continue to focus on what’s happening financially in our world and for your own wealth and wellbeing. With this of course it would be heartless to ignore in our wider human family the losses and risks to life and limb, homes, communities, and loved ones.
Canada is leading this year (especially our dividend holdings). Recent numbers for first-quarter 2022 show S&P500 down 5%, Nasdaq down 9%, Emerging Markets down 9%, Europe down 10%, Government and corporate Bond indices down 8%, real-return bonds down 9%, and long-term bond indices down near 12%. No wonder Bloomberg said losing 5% was the best one could do this quarter.
I’ve reviewed dozens of clients’ holdings since April 1st to see how our portfolios did, and in almost every case we have exceeded what Bloomberg says was best possible. Most of our returns range -2% to -4%. Younger and more aggressive investors may have more downward fluctuation as they aim for more growth, less income, and use volatile times to buy more while it’s on sale (ie. with their monthly deposits when markets are lower). Especially with war, covid, interest-rate hikes, inflation and supply chain disruptions etc. we can be grateful to achieve steady results, and very significant growth year-over-year.
As you likely know I’ve encouraged the idea of brief temporary retirements (3 weeks, 3 months?) for people wishing to enjoy a break yet continue their career. With the above heading “Travel” you see where Virginia and I have had such times together. I used to believe National Geographic was a travel guide (LOL). Now most of their pictures and stories seem ambitiously beyond me.
My point here is to share that over the years we’ve moved all daily administration to our office team, Ben and others, which for me has been like a partial retirement process, easing my load to precisely and keenly focus on your financial planning, to serve your life goals and personal lifestyle. My birthday yesterday (66) moves me toward “possible” retirement age 69-70. Many of you at some point have met Whitney Hammond, at our office or events we have co-hosted, my dear friend (quarter-century this month) and also principal of our firm. With time you will get to know Whitney even more.
I’m still here – not going anywhere except to travel and find new delights with Virginia – but it’s natural for Whitney and myself that as planners we have always been preparing for continuity in event of death, disability, or when I might retire (goal was 80 but my cancer in 2017 altered this a bit). Since Whitney and I combined our business at the opening of 2005 we’ve consistently prepared to preserve our clients’ financial and personal wellbeing regardless what life and the world could bring along the way. Our practices and processes as a firm are entirely consistent, and this vitally protects your personal goals to sustain and grow your wealth for all your future needs. It makes perfect sense too, because we’re serving in many cases three or four generations of client families — so we also build generations in our team to continue serving you best. Honouring your trust and our integrity, smooth transitions like this will preserve our promise to fully, truly, and always be here for you and your dear ones, in all that life can bring, and even beyond!
Yours in Financial Security for LIFE!
Brian Weatherdon, MA, CFP, CLU, CPCA. 905-637-3500
627 Guelph Line, Burlington, Ont. L7R 3M7. 1-877-937-3500
Certified Financial Planner, Certified Retirement Coach
** This monthly letter touches on key strategies in Canadian and global investing and financial planning. This letter is not an offer to sell any kind of security, insurance, or program. Historical returns and risk measures are not a valid guide to future performance. Returns are from publicly available sources and research from a variety of firms including but not limited to Canada Life, CIBC, Dynamic, Mackenzie Financial, RBC / PH&N, and more. Opinions in this letter belong solely to the author and no other body is responsible for the content expressed here. We value opportunity to coordinate with your legal and accounting advisers to further your financial goals in home and business. We are grateful always to receive your comments and questions.