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"Generosity for $2000 please Alex" - The Piedmont Vine

Jeopardy Clue (and it’s a Daily Double!): “They generously and unwittingly gave out 20+% raise’s on January 1, 2020”

Answer: Who are Clients working with “fee only” Financial Advisors!

I am not sure even the great Ken Jennings would have nailed that question! As all Jeopardy fans know Ken is currently leading Jeopardy’s “GOAT - Greatest of All Time” tournament finishing up on ABC this week. (Before I get rolling - about the photo...this years Birnie Christmas festivities had an additional layer of "enthusiasm" as we celebrated our daughter Meaghan's December graduation from Penn State's Bellisario School of Communications. It took several Christmas Eve visitors to polish off the Methuselah of Grand Reserve Champagne shown - now back to the regularly scheduled broadcast!)

January 2020 marks a month of true exuberance for many financial advisors as they just received a 20% + raise in their projected compensation for the coming year thanks to the unknowing generosity of their clients and a bull market. Wait a minute – what now?

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"The Birnie Fam Bid Fenway Adieu!"


I’ll be channeling my inner John Updike for this effort. As every native New England bred “sahx” fan of a certain age can attest, it was Sir Updike who penned the quintessential farewell article to Boston Red Sox Legend (intentional cap “L” FYI!) Ted “Teddy Ballgame / Splendid Splinter/ The Kid” Williams which appeared in the October 22, 1960 issue of The New Yorker magazine. Click link below to read Updike's masterpiece!
Over the years, so many of you have permitted me to be a part of your personal lives – willingly and emotionally opening up to me with your dreams, fears and financially driven challenges. It is this confidential place in your lives I value greatly. Today I share a bit of the Birnie family chronicles with you.  
Earlier today we had to put down our first family dog “Fenway” (but of course) after 14 years of loyalty and love. In baseball terms, we had to take the future hall of fame starting pitcher out of the game!

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Skip The Dip

Dipped Ice Cream 2Growing up in New England, we had several “regional” ice cream shops – many of which have faded into oblivion - unfortunately much like the NY Football Giants 2017 & 2018 seasons! One of our local Connecticut favorites was Carvel’s Soft Serve whose owner Tom Carvel was the company’s iconic TV pitchman urging folks to buy among other treats – a whale shaped ice cream cake for “your Whale of a Dad”!

One of the “go to” Carvel items was the soft served swirl cone dipped in either Red, Brown or Tan “Dips” which hardened to enhance the flavor profile of the product. They are omnipresent now – but in early to mid-1970’s a “dip” was a thing! One of the counter servers had a standard line “Never Skip the Dip!” when coaching up a customer pondering their order. Looking back, I’m not sure how hard the decision was with only Chocolate or Vanilla / with or without a dip into a vat of a "sweet plastic" tasting Chocolate, Strawberry or Butterscotch as the only decisions facing you. (I’ll pause for a second now, so readers can mentally go back to relive their childhood ice cream experiences!)

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Peeling the Onion

"Peeling the Onion" on Mutual Funds Capital Gains Tax - Brings Tears to the Eyes!

Wall Street rarely (OK never) sends “a warning memo” in advance of a pending negative market event to investors. Imagine the erosion of portfolio values that would have been avoided in the late 2000’s if they did! However, in the 4th Quarter of every year – mutual fund companies do just that – they post their estimated capital gains distributions for each fund. Furthermore, the companies tell investors well in advance the exact date they will be distributing them.

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Who Invented the 1% fee? Only “Oliver” asks "Please Sir I'd like some more!

Good afternoon - Successful inventors have always been the catalysts for tremendously impactful societal and economic changes over history. Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb, Alexander Graham Bell – the telephone, and Steve Jobs – well seemingly everything else (except the Internet which of course Al Gore created!) Clearly these inventions have an amazingly life changing impact on virtually everyone living in any developed country. An “invention” that is never discussed – but felt by most every investor working with an advisor today - is the “1% of Assets” advisory management fee. The unknown “creator” of this approach has funded an entire industry on the wallets of retail investors.

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