2021: From Perseverance Comes Progress

2021: From Perseverance Comes Progress
Briggs Financial Inc. Annual Letter

There is no possible way that I could write in a paragraph or a page, or even an entire book, all the thoughts and feelings and sentiments I have regarding the year 2020. So I won’t. What I will say is that while 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year on a number of fronts, we have passed those tests and 2021 is already giving us a multitude of reasons for being optimistic. We can all find solace in that idea. So in this letter, I would like to share with you what we have built with your help and support over this past year. I want to share insights into our work and what our priorities will be for the next twelve months. And finally, I would also like to share some opportunities to deepen your experience with the firm and everything it has to offer you.

Briggs Financial Doubles in Size for the Third Year in a Row!

Briggs Financial has doubled its investments under management and revenues from this time one year ago. Our number of households being served is also up sharply, and overall we are on an outstanding trajectory to continue this trend of hypergrowth into 2021. Our assets under management grew from $4 million to over $10 million; this is a result of the combination of new clients coming into the firm as well as outsized growth in the returns of our existing clients, which I will be more full-throated about in a minute. Additionally, we opened our tax preparation business, taking on 25 tax preparation clients with 100% acceptance of our returns by the IRS, no fuss! We are on pace to double the number of tax preparation clients this year (If you still need help filing your tax return for this year, we would LOVE to help).

We Hired Our First Full-Time Team Member!

In September of this year we hired our first full-time team member, Shawn Block. Shawn is an Associate Adviser for the firm, having recently earned his license after a thirteen year career in senior management at Medieval Times in Schaumburg. While Shawn’s collegiate background is in theatrical performance, his love for all things personal finance and innate desire to help people resonated greatly with me and my story of getting into this industry. Shawn has been working incredibly hard since earning his licensing, including many, many hours studying taxes, observing hundreds of hours of financial planning meetings, and is now starting to take the lead on client cases with support from myself through our daily meetings. Shawn has done a tremendous job thus far of working on research and projects for myself and our clients, as well as spearheading a significant portion of the tax preparation data entry. He is doing an excellent job contributing to our success and growth in 2021. Welcome to our team and our family Shawn!

Investment Mettle Put to the Test

2020 was a test on many levels. For a number of business owners, it tested our preparation and ability to handle unexpected downturn and stress. With respect to our investment strategies, from February 19th through March 23rd they squared off against the worst five week performance in the history of the stock market. In 2020, every strategy we deployed, from our 50/50 Moderate Growth Portfolio to our Equity Only individual stock portfolio, all of them beat the S&P 500 for the year, ranging from a pre-tax margin of +4.6% to as high as +20.5%, depending on the level of risk being taken. What that demonstrates is the value of the resolve Briggs Financial has in its investment selection process. Long-term thinking, indifference to transient market conditions, dedication to business fundamentals, and risk-reward analysis across asset classes are what help us make what I believe to be the most prudent choices while namely avoiding potentially costly errors.

To that end, I want to speak in a more full-throated manner about error avoidance. Error avoidance is given far less credence than it deserves. According to a 2019 report by Yun Li of CNBC, 80% of investments today are either in index funds (60%) or quantitative funds (20%) – that is to say, funds where investment decisions are automatically traded according to certain predetermined parameters and algorithms. With most investors essentially following each other like lemmings, when a major event occurs, there’s no analysis or thought process happening when large sell-offs occur. We saw this happen at the end of 2018, and we saw it again in the aforementioned February-March free-fall. Yet in each scenario, Briggs Financial not only did not react by selling assets as a part of our strategies, we actually bought further into a number of positions. With decision-making being made emotionally by the market and without regard to what is being bought or sold because index funds generally contain such large baskets of assets, our selective nature has the potential to create significant advantages both now and long-term. We’ve seen that play out over the last few years. Until and unless the market behaves differently, I see a durable advantage in this environment.

Personal Professional Development Update

While it took a bit longer than anticipated to begin my Masters degree, it did finally happen this Fall and so far, I have completed three courses, maintaining a 4.0 GPA (this last course on income tax planning was a toughie!). They have been rigorous and an excellent test of my knowledge in a variety of financial planning and investment subjects. Seven courses remain to complete the degree, with course #4 starting next week.

Opportunities for You in 2021

I will begin this section by shamelessly suggesting that we would love for you to take advantage of more of our services if you aren’t already and if it makes sense for you. Our tax preparation service in particular is an excellent way to take some stress and headache out of your life, while having experts prepare your taxes at a reasonable rate without having to go into a preparer’s office or bang your head against your desk dealing with an online filing platform. We include data archiving and all state returns needed as part of our flat-fee system, while at the same time providing an easy way for you to upload and save tax documents for future years and needs. Please let us know if you are interested so we can get that process started straight away.

Apart from the work we do for clients, Briggs Financial offers a TON of outstanding online resources that you can use to improve your financial knowledge and be empowered in making better financial decisions. I regularly publish articles in The Briggs Blog as well as our weekly podcast “Money is Personal,” which can be found on virtually every major podcasting platform. We also enjoy posting fun tips and tricks on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, so please like and follow us.

In Closing

I am so deeply thankful to have earned your business and frankly the love, trust, and support you regularly express to me and the team. As tough as this past year has been and the challenges we have faced, we have faced them together and we shall overcome, we shall persevere, and I believe we will have an outstanding year in 2021.

If I may ask a favor of you, and many of you have already done this with alacrity and I am so very thankful for it – please introduce us to work with your family and friends. Referrals easily comprise 90%+ of our new clients, because it turns out that it requires a great deal of trust to receive and accept guidance on something as important as your finances and investments. It is through your efforts that we have been able to double in size three years in a row, and I would love to make that a fourth. Any introduction you can help facilitate would be so deeply appreciated.

Thank you again so very much for working with us, for trusting us, and for having such determination and resilience in working toward your financial goals. Thank you for being a part of the Briggs Financial family.

Blessings and friendship,

Steven Briggs
CEO, Briggs Financial Inc.