As we put this issue to bed, the markets have suffered quite a jolt. A disappointing jobs report sent the Dow and other indices sliding on a Friday in June only to inch back up the following week.
I know we're all asking the same thing: when will this lackluster recovery actually recover, especially when it comes to jobs and housing? Will the Eurozone crisis send the United States economy back into recession or just keep us in this slow growth state? And how can we expect clients to trust an industry that sees scandal after scandal—the latest arising at J.P. Morgan?
Clearly those are the questions your investor-clients are asking, too. However, they want to know how it affects their portfolios and how you, their advisors, are going to handle it. They want to accumulate more wealth and preserve the nest eggs they've already built. But they are bombarded with news the sky is falling in Europe; with ads and other reports that they won't have enough for retirement because pensions, for the most part, have gone the way of the dinosaurs; and that the U.S. economy is still struggling.
So they come to you, their advisors, looking for guidance.
Maybe it's not as bad as the fall of 2008. But, it's all about perception and the economic pain that people are feeling right now.
This month, managing editor Lorie Konish spoke to John Taft, head of RBC Wealth Management - U.S. and former chairman of SIFMA, for Five Questions. She spoke to him about where the advisory industry needs to be on the issue of regulatory reform and the Dodd-Frank Act. Taft recently penned Stewardship: Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street. In the book, Taft laid blame for the 2008-2009 financial crisis at the feet of some of the leaders of the largest financial institutions. He believes that they had lost their way and had moved away from their true purpose, which is to be "client-focused."
An advocate of a combination of entitlement cuts, revenue increases and a growing economy, Taft takes our politicians to task as well. "We see leaders ducking accountability for fixing critical, but seemingly intractable problems," he says, writing about America's economic woes and the nation's credit downgrade.
Yet, through all this, he sees promise. How so? Well, he compares the market turmoil of 2008-2009 to the "Miracle on the Hudson" in which a US Airways flight that suffered engine failure was safely landed on New York's Hudson River. Like that flight, Taft says, the American economy experienced not a crash landing but an emergency landing. And, like the passengers who had to climb out onto the wings of the plane to be rescued from the freezing waters of the Hudson, Taft writes, "we experienced an extreme event that left us traumatized to one degree or another. Many of us have yet to fully recover."
However, he says, we were given a second chance. Now, it is up to advisors to prepare for the possibility of another extreme economic event. As stewards to clients, that's what advisors are supposed to do, Taft argues. And, he provides four principles for being prepared. First, he says, "have a plan for dealing with the effects of extreme emotions." Second, he believes that creating a larger safety cushion or margin of error into the management of personal wealth is essential. The third critical step is to "build a fortress-like cash and liquidity position." Finally, he says you should "diversify against extreme events."
At On Wall Street, we strive to write about all these principles in some fashion in every issue as a way to help you improve your practice and create wealth for you and your clients. So read on, and send us your thoughts and opinions.
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