Happy New Year! All of us at Lucien, Stirling & Gray hope 2019 was generous to you in many, many ways, and that 2020 brings you health, prosperity and enough personal challenge and growth to make life interesting and fulfilling.
First, thank you. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve all you clients of this firm who are, to a person, likeable, respectable and friendly. I feel equally blessed to be surrounded by a team of great colleagues who do everything possible to demonstrate just how honest, hard-working, fun-loving, self-effacing and professional they are in caring for your needs. I’m very lucky. It’s possible that there are many others out there who feel the same sense of gratitude I do about their professional lives, but I sincerely doubt it. So, thank you all for such a rare and precious gift. I treasure it.
The end of a decade, especially one as disruptive to the apparent order of things as this past one has been, seems like a big moment. It’s natural for people to look back and make note of the big events, milestones and turning points that have shaped our collective experience, and you’ll find no shortage of reports, articles and opinion pieces being published now that attempt to do just that.
Rather than add to that prodigious pile here, I’d prefer to look forward instead, and with a more personal perspective, to share with you some of the big challenges and opportunities we see coming at us, and at you, over the next 5-10 years. Then we’d like to ask you for your thoughts, your insights, and your candid advice in how we should address them. Your input is very important, so please help us.
Fundamentally, ours is a business about working closely, even intimately, with people. It’s about managing expectations, emotions, behaviors and relationships – not just money, investment portfolios and financial plans. There is no automated process, investment algorithm, or software product – no matter how helpful and efficient it might be – that can ever replace the profoundly human need for empathy, trust, confidence and personal connection in doing what we do.
We’re acutely aware that to be trusted by others, we must be trustworthy. If we are to help our clients move forward in an uncertain world; to make measured decisions in the face of multiple risks and challenges; to endure the inevitable setbacks, and to reap the long-term rewards of diligent planning and investing, we must inspire confidence. To do that, we must have trust and confidence in ourselves. Not the false confidence that we know the future, for nobody does – but the authentic confidence that comes from being experienced, battle-tested, prepared to adapt to whatever conditions come our way, and assured that our value is all that it should be going forward. It’s here that we’d like your input.
How are we doing? What are we doing well? What are we not doing so well? What should we change? Please give us your candid feedback. If you could offer us just one piece of advice about how to serve your needs, and the needs of other people like you better in the coming years, what would it be?
Like many professions, ours is subject to all kinds of on-going disruption. New technologies, artificial intelligence, and aggressive private equity firms with deep pockets are combining in ways not imagined before in efforts to consolidate, streamline and overtake firms without a clear sense of purpose and direction. We’re also seeing huge demographic changes in our profession.
Studies I’ve read indicate that a third of financial advisors in practice today will retire within the next decade. Other studies indicate that half of current advisors have entered the business in the last decade – so they have comparatively little experience, acquired in a largely benign environment. Taken together, these point to a coming shake-up in the expectations and relationships that many clients of advisory firms have today – just when they’ll need stability, experience and continuity the most.
We want to provide that stability, experience and continuity – now, and for a long time to come. We’re fiercely protective of the fiduciary culture we’ve built here, and proud of the fact that the senior members of our advisory team have worked together for an average of __ years. At the same time, we’re intent on growing, changing, adapting, bringing new talents and capabilities aboard and making sure we’re constantly cross-pollinating between the wisdom of the old guard and the talents of the new.
The famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: “we are made wise not by recollections of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” I believe we’re also made wise by seeking candid advice from trustworthy clients and friends, and by listening carefully to their perspective and counsel, because they care about our well-being and they have a vested interest in our continued success.
In the coming months, as we meet with you and talk over the telephone, we hope to get your considered perspective on some of the issues and questions I’ve raised above, as well as other insights I’m sure will arise out of thoughtful conversations.
Thank you, again, for your confidence and trust.
Thomas G. Twombly