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"I've got some news to share - some of it even involves the markets!"

As Piedmont Wealth Advisory sprints into “Holiday Mode” – (what do you mean Christmas is THIS Sunday?) I am overdue in sharing a few salient firm updates with our clients and friends (at least I feel they are salient!)

Vine Spoiler Alert:

There have been some really positive Piedmont developments and some news thats good on the wallet (details on that found at the end of this note)!

Although I pledged to write a bit more in 2022 - I was a bit derailed by my personal episode of "A funny thing happened as I walked off the putting green" - happy to share my knee is healing nicely and the golf course will see me in late February! So here we go....

  • Paul Bradley has earned his promotion to Financial Advisor! Paul joined us in June of 2021 from Vanguard and over the past 18 months has shown tremendous acumen in learning our unique approach to ultra-transparent client first wealth advisory. He has developed strong relationships with a segment of our clients as well as quickly embracing our “one team for all clients” way of engaging. Although geographically distanced from our Reston Office, Paul seamlessly engages clients as well as Jamie and I.  Additionally, his past fall Paul embarked on a comprehensive accreditation as a Retirement Income Certified Professional enabling us to stay current on trends and strategies that are on the top of our clients’ minds (“how the h##! Do I afford retirement again?”). This program is three segments requiring significant individual study, case studies as well as regular testing and ongoing continuing education. Well Deserved Paul!

  • Jamie Sexton has grown our Financial Planning engagements significantly!: In early 2022, some overdue responsibility shuffling freed up Jamie to dive head first into focusing on Financial planning – (yes a bit overdue but hey I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed!). Thru his dedication to his craft – Jamie now is truly bringing significant value to our clients with his deep understanding of retirement income planning and cash flow modeling. Those clients who have engaged with Jamie on this journey walk away feeling that was truly “Time Well Spent”! Does it take a little commitment on your part to dive in – absolutely! Does it cost you anything? NO –I feel strongly that dedicated financial planning should be an absolute part of any engagement with your advisory team. If you have not responded to any of Jamie’s emails inviting you to spend some time with the eMoney platform – I urge you to make it a point in 2023. Reminder – Jamie is not incentivized to sell or recommend anything – his passion is financial planning and it has been rewarding for me to see this passion grow as his expertise and confidence has. Jamie is becoming an official husband on May 6th followed by a great honeymoon to "countries unknown!" (cheers to you late great Anthony Bourdain).

  • Q1 2023 client focus is “Are your affairs in order”? Yes - Estate planning forces us all to come to grips with a topic we don’t ever wish to verbalize, but experience has taught me its far better to have engaged in thoughtful planning vs. leaving some rubble behind for your heirs to sort thru. Forget the annual New Years commitments to diet, exercise and letting grudges fade (although I will long hold my grudge vs. the Red Sox leadership for ushering Mookie Betts and now Xander Bogaerts to the west coast – but I digress!). We have actively vetted and built relationships with 3 outstanding experienced estate planning attorneys as well as started to introduce the use of “Five Wishes – Advancing Peace of Mind” to our relationships. The Five Wishes document (https://www.fivewishes.org/five-wishes-sample.pdf) provides an opportunity to fully outline end of life guidance and instruction for loved ones that go well beyond “who’s getting what!”. We encourage all to make a commitment to your family and loved ones and review any existing documents or initiate the process of developing them. Please reach out if you have immediate questions.

  • Piedmont Wealth Advisory and The Birnies remain emotionally and financially committed to Morgan’s Message (https://www.morgansmessage.org/) PWA annually contributes over 2.5% of our gross revenues a year to a variety of local and national charities / causes. Morgan’s Message, with its commitment to reduce if not end the stigma surrounding mental illness remains a top of list commitment for us. As I have said many times, life has been more than fair to the Birnie family over the years and our hearts are filled with a generous spirit. The Birnie family and the firm are particularly thankful for the Cornell Women’s Lacrosse program for their team wide inclusion of Morgan’s Message into their team culture.

  • Inflation is hitting everyone - including Piedmont - but there will be no fee increases in 2023! We have all been beaten up by inflation and choppy markets enough this year - enough is enough.....there will be no consideration of any client fee increases until 2024!

  • Oh yeah - the markets and economy....we are in the camp of :
  • Interest rates will normalize in 2023 - increases will reduce in size & frequency over the first half then pause before eventually "pivoting down" at some point in 2024...making fixed income (bonds) appealing after a few years of low to negative returns in the bond markets.
  • The media will continue to scream prognostications, predict earnings doom, hard landings, soft landings, and on and on.....with little if any real clue what the future holds.
  • Stocks have withstood the test of time for - well forever! Times like this don't feel particularly good - but investing in quality companies with positive cash flow and pricing power when their prices are depressed has worked - oh EVERYTIME!
  • When you feel frustrated and want to vent - call us!

Final thoughts - enjoy your holidays and your family!

The photo below was taken after the teams Morgan's Message Locker dedication ceremony. includes the 5 wonderful members of Cornell's Women's Lacrosse team who are leading the dialogue destigmatizing Mental Health challenges as the teams Morgan's Message Ambassadors - for a myriad of reasons many of you are aware of - we can't thank them enough!