The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought about a lot of change in our world. Each of us has in one way or another been impacted by the economic and public health restrictions that were put in place beginning in March of 2020 to ensure that we make it through this thing ok. Along the way, we have all learned the values of adaptability, grit, and determination to maintain our ways of life, of working, of maintaining family and friends. For me personally, the endless quarantined months of 2020 also served as an opportunity to reflect on what is most important to me in life and how and where I spend my productive time (i.e., my career). After a good amount of reflection, I determined I needed to make a big change. The path I was on was no longer sustainable, even as I looked out beyond the end of the pandemic crisis. Time for another reinvention (the first being a decision 15 years ago to pursue a full-time MBA in Finance and Strategy). And so, in December I joined Ed, Diana, and Jeff at Baldrige Asset Management (BAM) to make this new start for myself in pursuit of a long-time passion of mine to join the field of wealth management, leveraging my 25 years of experiences gained working in Industry (Air Products, Axalta) and Consulting (Accenture) and through MBA studies (Wharton) towards the purpose of helping BAM and our clients chart the course ahead for the next 20 years and beyond.
Some facts about me:
- Client of BAM since 2015, before recently joining BAM as an employee
- Married to Sylvia, with 2 children: Michael, Jr. (age 10) and Viviana (age 7)
- Currently live in Philadelphia, PA, with strong ties to the Lehigh Valley (Sylvia and I met at Air Products in the late 90s, got married in Lehigh University chapel in 2002, and lived in the LV between 1999-2006)
- MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (dual major in Finance and Strategy) in 2008
- Undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Scranton, 1996
- Love studying the “science” and “psychology” of investing, markets, and macro-economics
- Love sports (playing and coaching) and outdoor activities
- Love music (playing and listening)
I think most of us would agree the financial advisor-client relationship is somewhat of an intimate one. We share all kinds of personal details and goals and aspirations with our advisor with full expectation of developing the right level of understanding of our personal situations required to build and execute the best plans for achieving them. Like many of you I am sure, I had discussed with Ed some typical goals: retirement, funding my kids’ future college expenses, buying a house, selling a house, thinking about equity and debt decisions in a smart way, asset allocation, risk, analyzing stock options and restricted stock, and a handful more. But the goal that I had not shared with anyone but Sylvia to that point was about reinventing my career towards my passion in personal finance. This goal I did not believe was as straight-forward as the others to distill to a personal finance goal, with the certain risks (known and unknown) and uncertain payoffs that lie ahead. But such is the value of a great advisor that Ed really became a thought-partner with me in this as I explored the possibilities in detail of what this new future could look like. We worked out a model together from which I was then able to see the path ahead now illuminated and the decision clearer. That was my realization that a good financial advisor goes well beyond investment selection and asset allocation; s/he really does need to “walk in our shoes” for a few miles to help us truly make these complex life decisions with clarity.
During my 10+ years in Consulting I spent a lot of time researching and advising clients (large and small) on the value of Digital Transformation and “journey mapping” together with them. For sure, digital disruption is real. We at BAM are not immune to these digital forces either and have been carefully considering the needs of our clients and the business to determine how much innovation, transformation, and automation is needed in our internal and external processes as we look ahead to the next 20+ year chapter of the firm. As we progress our digital agenda over time, we are grounded in our purpose to be the most Client-Centric firm we can be. Soon, you will be hearing more from us about the new BAM Client Portal (stay tuned to this space for a virtual launch party to introduce you to it!), which is one of our exciting new enhancements to improve our “Human+Computer” client experience.
I could not be happier with where I have landed. The team is fantastic, the markets continue to be endlessly fascinating and challenging, and of course the day-to-day work experiencing how much our clients expect us to walk in their shoes to make sure our financial strategies align with your unique circumstances. The markets of the past 12 months have been nothing but remarkable, with 30+% drawdowns at the start of the pandemic, parabolic growth of the digital innovators (with strong performance from the major indexes as well), the mainstreaming of Bitcoin and Crypto as stores of value, “meme” trades, and Green/ESG strategies occupying a more prominent place in long-term minded investors’ portfolios. Our near-term (6-12 months) outlook remains constructive, with vaccine distribution gaining traction, accommodative fiscal and monetary policies in place for a while, and inflation expectations targeted around 2%. Longer-term, we continue to maintain a more moderated view in-line with lower expected returns from most asset-classes globally. The power of low-cost, broad diversification remains one of our hallmarks. Rest assured your portfolios are frequently reviewed to ensure alignment of these market realities to your goals. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a chat to discuss any concerns you have or changes in your situation. Life is unpredictable – your financial plan does not have to be. I look forward to working with you.