2022: The Beat Goes On
Briggs Financial Inc. Annual Letter
I feel like in many respects 2021 was perhaps a more difficult year than last year. While the pandemic reared in tremendous uncertainty in 2020, including the largest five-week drop in the history of the stock market, this past year has yielded a combination of highs, lows, but also a sort of malaise that has set in as the COVID pandemic (and perhaps at this point, endemic) has forced us to acknowledge a reality that the way we think and live may be different on a greater than transitory basis. If you’re feeling that grind, as though your lifestyle has been under siege in a way, I empathize and I am right there with you. I had high hopes of getting back to what I considered to be a “normal” way of life, and it just isn’t happening – at least, not any time soon. But what I can say is that I have been encouraged by finding different ways of taking this environment we are in and at least finding ways to make it feel more familiar, while doing so as safely as possible. Over the holiday break, I hope that you also have the opportunity to enjoy friends and family, great food, and to find rest and comfort. That’s my greatest hope and wish for you.
Shifting gears, I am pleased to report that Briggs Financial Inc. has had another outstanding year, filled with both extraordinary challenges and amazing successes. I would love to share with you our firm’s progress this year, as well as give you some visibility on our trajectory for the next year and a bit beyond. I share this information with you for a couple of reasons. First, I share these things in the hope that they both inspire further confidence in our ability to serve you, as well as get you a bit fired up that by your choice to work with our team, you have helped us get to the point we are at now. Second, I want you to be aware of the resources that are available to you both now and in the future, in the hopes that you take advantage of every aspect of the ecosystem we have built out. Finally, I share these things out of gratitude, because without you telling friends and family about our firm, without you in a way being superfans of our team, there is no way we would be at where we are at now or be able to affect the world in such a positive manner. It has never been, nor will ever be lost on me that without you, we do not exist, and we will never, ever take working for you for granted.
A Huge Favor to Ask of You! (if you have not done so already)
I have a HUGE favor to ask of you, one that means a great deal not just to me personally, but to our firm professionally as well.
Recently (May 2021), the SEC made some substantial changes to its advertising rules, which now allow financial advisors to solicit reviews from our clients. 90%+ of our new business comes from referrals from existing clients. Reviews and testimonials are a vital part of earning referral business through sharing with others your experiences working with our firm.
With that said, it would mean the world to me and my team if you could take a few minutes to share on Google using the link below your experience working with us. Every story gives our team an opportunity to connect with a new household and improve their lives in the same way we have hopefully improved yours.
Briggs Financial Inc. Posts Massive Growth for Fourth Year in a Row!
Over this past year, Briggs Financial Inc. grew +94% year over year compared to 2020. We now service approximately 135 households, managing approximately $14 million in assets. Our tax preparation business more than doubled this year, and our financial planning business grew over 50% from a year prior. And we are not slowing down – in fact, it is my goal for the practice to grow +150% in 2022. I believe that this next year can be our best year ever.
100+ “Money is Personal” Episodes and 50+ “Briggs Blog” Articles Achieved!
Earlier this year, Briggs Financial Inc. reached an amazing threshold of recording its 100th episode of “Money is Personal” and just now wrote our 50th “The Briggs Blog” article. These resources are all available on our website at www.briggswealth.com and are entirely free for you (and your friends) to access – no login required! Finally, I encourage you to LIKE our Facebook page and FOLLOW us on LinkedIn and Instagram for more amazing financial tips and memes.
Another Solid Year for Investments, Be Patient
This year has been a relatively tense year for investments. We have seen the landscape of the economy and the environment shift in a variety of ways, ranging from inflationary and interest rate pressures, to accelerating wage growth, geopolitical pressures mounting, and the ever-changing landscape of biological risks associated with the Delta and now Omicron variant of the coronavirus. This has caused asset pricing to act irrationally over this past year, which in turn has made our strategies challenging to navigate.
The thing to keep in mind in an environment like this is to avoid moving too rapidly, to avoid making judgments based on relatively short-term data. For example, our Aggressive Growth Mutual Fund strategy for this year is up just 11.7% through December 1, compared to +23.4% for the S&P 500. However, if we pull back that timeframe to a two-year window, that same strategy yielded a +71.1% return compared to +42.7% for the S&P 500.
We actually saw a similar environment in 2016 from at least an economic perspective, where interest rates were beginning to rise and geopolitical pressures remained uncertain. In that calendar year, the Aggressive Growth Mutual Fund strategy earned just +8.2% yield for the year, whereas S&P 500 index earned +13.2%. However, by the end of 2017 the Aggressive Growth strategy overtook the S&P 500, earning +46.3% over two years versus the S&P 500 earning +38.2%. From 2016 to today, the Aggressive Growth strategy is +228.7% versus the S&P 500 up 149.4%. On $100,000 invested, that outperformance resulted in returns of an additional $79,300. Not too bad.
So what does all this mean? What it means is that during these periods of tension and rebalancing, it is important to remember that your strategy is based on a long-term viewpoint not just of the market, but of these businesses we are invested in making money and performing well because the fundamentals of the business are good, not because the market went up or down in any given quarter or calendar year. I strongly believe these so-called “benchmarks” such as the various indexes anchor people into making irrational decisions that, with even a modest amount of hindsight, could be avoided just by not getting too exuberant when the portfolio goes up, and not getting too dour when the portfolio goes down. The key is to maintain the approach by investing in good businesses poised for long-term success.
Professional Development Update
Our team is deep into the Masters Degree trenches. Associate Advisor Shawn Block is starting his third of ten courses in the program, earning a 4.0 GPA on the back of some very challenging work. I am just three courses away from completing the program, working on my thesis paper this term and also earning a 4.0 GPA. Briggs Financial Inc., pays for all team members’ professional development, licensing, and educational expenses, including the Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning degree program from The College For Financial Planning, a Higher Learning Commission Accredited school. Lifelong learning has been and will always be an integral part of our team’s core values. Our earnings in part fuel this team’s continued improvement and standard of excellence.
We Are Hiring Our Second Full-Time Team Member in 2022
As the firm grows, while we certainly have plenty of capacity in the existing team, sometimes you have the opportunity to bring on a team member that is just plain amazing. When a time like that happens, to invest in the business and bring on top talent, you make that choice and do that, even if it seems a bit out of sequence. You will learn more about this person as 2022 progresses, but we are extremely excited. I will also tease that if all goes according to plan in 2022, I have plans to hire two additional full-time members in 2023, including a dedicated tax expert.
Charitable Efforts Raise Money for Sick Kids
This year, Briggs Financial Inc., formed a team partnership with board members Kari and Tom Davis in the creation of “The Owlchemists.” Our team streamed games throughout the year, including a back-to-back 12 hour stream by Kari and Tom, to raise money for the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, NY. We collectively raised $2,878 this year for the hospital, all of which will go to helping those kids and families in need of care and assistance. We will be partnering once again to hopefully raise more than $3,000 in 2022.
Minority Ownership Stake Acquired in Baldy’s Blends
Many of you have commented on enjoying the spices from our holiday mailing, and we certainly enjoyed sending them your way. What you may not be aware of is that earlier this year, Briggs Financial Inc. actually invested in Baldy’s Blends, providing capital so that the primary owner could expand their production into a storefront location that now services three different farmer’s markets in Lancaster, PA, as well as demand online from all across the United States and Canada. Michael “Baldy” Arrowsmith’s products are delicious, and we are proud to support his efforts to create high quality hand-crafted products with no additives or fillers. While the businesses themselves likely could not be more different between Baldy’s Blends and Briggs Financial, the values underlying how we serve people are very similar, which made the decision to forge that relationship an easy one.
Thank you again so much for your continued support and trust that you regularly share with me and our team. As I said last year, 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 2022. If there is anything I or our team can do to make your experience even better, to help you even more, please let us know. Thank you for being a part of the Briggs Financial family.
Blessings and friendship,
Chairman and CEO
Briggs Financial Inc.