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As I Move Along

Jim Williams

A year ago, I wrote about the then-current state of the evolution in the company and the progress of the transition here.  This will be more about my personal transition and my immediate plans.

Late this fall, I met with Matt, Juan and Adam for reassignment of lead advisor and backup advisor responsibilities.   As was the plan, I emerged from that meeting completely graduated from any direct client responsibility whatsoever.   I will continue with the firm at 1/2 time.  I guess this perfectly meets the definition of semi-retired.

My contribution at the firm will be pretty much as follows:

  • Content - such as writing this quarterly newsletter, and other communications,
  • Participation in a limited number of client meetings on a consulting advisor basis as requested,
  • Training, coaching and mentoring of all members of the firm as requested,
  • Financial management and analysis for the firm,
  • Participation in development of firm posture in regulatory compliance matters, professional standards, etc.,
  • Pro-bono work in a few different areas.  
    • I will continue to volunteer at the Brent Eley Foundation (currently on the Board Governance Committee), my favorite charity.  
    • I will sit as a volunteer on some hearing panels with the CFP Board Discipline and Ethics Commission (DEC), a reprise of work I did over a decade ago.   Volunteer status does not include membership on the DEC.
    • I have established a relationship as a volunteer with Family Reach, a charity that provides, among other services, limited personal financial planning assistance to families facing treatment for Cancer.  This is essentially the same population that is served by Brent's Place (the Brent Eley Foundation).  Family Reach has a national footprint and brings to bear the services of financial planners across the country. 

Family Reach has a rigorous training program and a structured engagement and tracking program for the provision of personal financial planning services.  The engagements are temporary and may not be converted to permanent relationships. The focus on this planning work is primarily short term and heavily bent toward the identification of various resources to aid the families.  This planning work will be a substantial change of pace for me and I look forward to the challenge.

  • I also expect to continue as a member of the Board of the College for Financial Planning, which I have done for the past 12 or so years.

Concurrent with this set of professional changes, my wife and I have completed a substantial downsize in our living circumstances.  We sold our patio home and bought a townhome.  The reasons for our decision to downsize are many and varied.  The biggest issue was that the house was much more than we needed, and care and maintenance became excessively burdensome.   Despite having a quite small yard, the litany of yard and exterior care seemed to grow each year.  Care and maintenance of the interior became no less burdensome, costly and time consuming.  (Actually, the change over time was not the house changing, but us changing.)  Our new home is half the size of our prior home and requires absolutely zero outside maintenance.  

 Needless to say, this downsize has been a challenge.  Getting rid of excess stuff is not an easy thing.  The word that most frequently came to mind during the process was "ruthless".   We had to be ruthless in considering whether the stuff we kept for the new place would be used and useful, or just stuff.  There are several categories of excess stuff, most of which are just rationalizations for a kind of inertia that requires conscious action to get rid of it.  You just have to cut through all that.  Of the things hard to part with, my old baseball gloves may have been the hardest.   Ultimately, they went to charity in hopes they will continue to be used and enjoyed by someone with younger and better moving parts than I have for such things.  On some of the odds and ends, I had to just resolve that if I need one in the future, a nearby store will almost certainly have them in stock.   This idea alone freed up a lot of "stuff".  Another consideration is that "stuff" sitting in storage at your home or hanging idly in your closet is certainly not being used or useful.   The "stuff" may find a use if it is placed through an appropriate charity (ARC Thrift, Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity).   Keep in mind that these donations to charity may be the basis for tax deductions if proper records are kept at the time of the gift (consult your tax advisor). 

I have to say, I think we did a pretty good job overall.  The entire process stretched over a few years, and in the last year we used a good bit of lockdown-caused time available to push the process further along.   We converted all our records to digital, scanned family photos & snapshots, disposed of excess sporting equipment, power tools, furniture, clothing, construction materials, yard and garden stuff, interior decorator-y stuff, kitchen doodads, tableware, cookware, and on and on.   We gave some to family and friends, gave some to charities, some we sold and some we just trashed.  We moved into our new home in early December, and we don't feel like we are crammed in.   We have plenty of storage space and our new home feels quite comfortable.  

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The table below shows the returns through December 31, 2020 for selected investment asset classes.  In most cases, the results below are appropriate benchmarks for the related mutual funds in your investment portfolio.