by Kristen Euretig, CFP® Founder & Chief Planner
I would say the theme of 2023 in our client facing work has been anxiety. Even before violence broke out again in the Middle East, clients expressed overwhelm, anxiety and fear about the direction of markets and the world at large.
Our clients and people in general have absorbed a tremendous amount of change and shock in the last few years. COVID, inflation, fears of a recession that has yet to materialize, bank failures, a possible government shutdown, federal student loans coming due after a hiatus, the supreme court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, a down market and now multiple wars. I’m sure I’m missing something. I don’t say this to further stoke the anxiety you may be feeling as so many are, but to emphasize that it has been a LOT.
Clients are wondering how they can make sense of this world and navigate the economic environment today. Many may feel like the events we’ve experienced in the last few years are unprecedented and that we need a new playbook. While I understand the sentiment 100%, I have the perspective as someone who observes markets and their response to outside forces that these events are not truly without precedent. Market downturns are part of our economic cycle. There have been pandemics in the past. Inflation has come and gone before in economies across the world. We’ve experienced a government shutdown before. Wars have been waged countless times throughout history.
I don’t say all that to minimize the weight of the situation, but to say that it doesn’t change the playbook for personal finance. The world has weathered all of these storms and more, and the portfolios we design and manage have exposure to the global economy at large which has grown significantly over time. These events don’t necessarily impact a financial plan and strategy, in and of themselves. What may change is how you relate to them. If you feel anxious, you may need a bigger cushion for your emergency fund, or a tweak to your investment portfolio so you feel more comfortable in the day to day. It’s been a tough few years so be easy on yourself and that extends to your finances as well.