2017 was another impressive year for financial markets with returns surpassing 20% in the equity markets and positive gains from fixed income markets as well. Throughout the year, our team offered valuable insights into our continually changing economic environment in addition to financial and tax planning tips. As we look towards another great year, we also want to reflect on all that we learned in 2017.
We began 2017 with a valuation check, reviewing the data behind the market’s performance and ascertaining whether or not the market was fairly valued. We concluded that the market appeared to be fully valued if not slightly expensive, but that from a forward-looking vantage point this made sense given expectations for a corporate tax cut. Despite our positive expectations, we noted the many unknowns that were involved and consequently predicted a somewhat bumpy ride as the risk of “tail events” and over-reaction increased. We took note of the Dow Jones breaking past 20,000 and why “record-breaking” performance should be taken with a grain of salt.
In February, we explored changing healthcare costs, updates to the fiduciary rule, and rising wages. We noted that healthcare continues to be a complicated topic, that President Trump had made an executive order to delay the fiduciary rule which was then upheld by a federal judge, and that wage growth had accelerated at the end of 2016. Then in March, we talked about how to discern credible reading material and offered a few suggestions based on what we enjoy reading. We talked about how hindsight is 20/20, why you should(n’t) have invested in Domino’s Pizza stock, and how hard it is to predict the future. As the Brexit proceeded, we discussed what that process would look like, the timeline it would follow, and how difficult it would be for Prime Minister May to negotiate a trade policy that’s good for Britain.
As we headed into the summer we reviewed President Trump’s first 100 days in office and some of the implications they had on investing. We also explored why emerging markets were worth investing in and some of the variables contributing to the gender wage gap. As the summer progressed we explained what it meant for the dollar to strengthen in the context of Brexit and we checked in on the direction of rates (surprisingly, they were down).
In addition to tracking economic changes, we also expressed our gratitude for the wonderful people we work for and with. In July we had the privilege of serving alongside our clients at the Children’s Hunger Fund and in September we had the opportunity to attend a ballgame together.
As we entered the fall, we commented on Trump’s Tax Vision and learned about REITS, dividends, and how to keep your identity safe. Finally, we gave you an update on retirement limits, year-end tax planning ideas, and we introduced you to Jerome Powell, the man most likely to become the next chair of the federal reserve.
As we face a new year and a new set of uncertainties, we remain committed to keeping you informed and up-to-date and invite you to join us for our annual investor conference (RSVP here). We remain incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share our insights with you and, as always, hope you’ll let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you navigate life’s financial uncertainties.