2017: Year of the PFA Stretch

PFA Team Stretch

/p/ /f/ /æ/ /tēm/ /streCH/

Verb: to collaborate in a manner that expands ability and aptitude by means of stepping out of the norm and comfort zone
Synonyms: synergize, collectively grow

Noun: the act of dropping what you are doing to be led by Jim in a series of low impact exercises intended to lengthen one’s muscles while providing some comic relief from the task at hand
Synonyms: group yoga, the Jim Show, procrastination

Dear Valued Client,

Welcome to PFA’s third annual year in review.  Last year’s was quite the treat, featuring “significant” happenings from the mind of our fearless leader, Jim Bradley.  While last year’s review was entertaining, management decided to take a more traditional approach this year after catching some heat from the authorities.  Those of you paying attention would have noticed a mysterious connection between his review, and the death of Hugh Hefner.  What are the odds of that?  As I reviewed our thoughts from past years, however, I was happy to realize that Jim’s prophetic abilities extended beyond the demise of industry icons.  He finished last year’s review with a teaser of things to come – “Big, Big Things” to be specific. 

2017: Year of the Team Stretch

The “Big, Big Things” Jim envisioned became a reality early in the year.  PFA launched into 2017, announcing our registration as an Independent Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC in January.  As the most significant development in our history, it occurred as a result of extensive goal setting and training to get our infrastructure and personnel in shape for the challenge.  The year continued to be characterized by healthy happenings within our business, markets, and personal lives.  Simply put, we are feeling fit!  Now we get to flex our muscles and boast our accomplishments – but only briefly as we look again towards the future.

What followed our announcement was a sprint.  Our team worked furiously to communicate with clients, transition to a new custodian, and adapt to new technologies.  After emerging from the sea of paperwork, we refocused on trimming the fat.  We engaged DocuSign through our new custodial relationship, furthering our effort to become a completely paperless office.  In July, we parted ways with our broker-dealer partner, meaning PFA would only work with clients in the healthiest capacity – as their fiduciary.  Finally, we bulked up!  Making significant investments in technology, we launched a new client portal and reporting tool.  We also added two new team members, strengthening our Investment and Financial Planning Committees.  2017 has been a growth year for PFA, and we feel our business is more fit to service our clients’ needs than ever before.

I am sure to have some skeptic readers, but markets and the economy have followed a similar theme of fitness.  The S&P 500 has grown over 15% year to date.  Unemployment continues to improve, and is well below long-term averages at 4.2%.  Corporate earnings have remained strong and accelerated throughout the year.  The Fed has continued to tighten their very loose Monetary Policy, an action typically associated with healthy economies and growth.  Consumer finances look strong as well, with consumer debt payments relative to income at near all-time lows.  The sociopolitical landscape remains noisy, but underlying that appears to be a healthy economy.

Enough about business, though.  2017 has also been a year of personal health and fitness within our team.  Here are some notable happenings:

  • The PFA Running Club participated in The University of Maine’s Healthy High 5k race in April! Portfolio Manager, Hannah Strickland, took first place of our group while Jim graciously made sure everyone had finished before crossing the line himself.
  • Immediately following the race, Jim led the group in the first PFA Team Stretch to prevent soreness and ready us for drinks and dinner. It has become a regular fixture in our staff meetings and team gatherings since.
  • Julie Willette welcomed her first child into the world, Chandler James Willette, who is the first member of the PFA Crawling Club and lights up any room with his infectious smile.
  • Lauren Ulman purchased a new home, and was immediately welcomed with a tree- bucking project after moving in the weekend of the hurricane.
  • Hannah Tackett attended the T3 (Tools and Technology for Today’s Advisor) Conference in Orange County, CA, by day evaluating financial technology and by night sampling West Coast brews with her husband.
  • Hannah Strickland joined our team, returning to Maine after eight years away. She also passed the Level II CFA exam, making her a Level III candidate.  She will sit for that exam in 2018.
  • Abrin Berkemeyer joined the PFA Team, marking the beginning of his career in financial planning and the end to his days of slinging beers at a local watering hole. He is currently studying for his Series 65 and will move on to his CFP Coursework in 2018.
  • Jim Bradley checked “visit Prague” off his bucket list. And, he immediately added a new item: “visit Prague again.”
  • As for myself, I remained more local than usual and attempted to revive a golf game that has been deteriorating since my high school days. I joined the Purpoodock Club and was reminded why my day job is in financial planning, and not golfing.

2017 was a year for the books.  Stay tuned for more exciting news from the PFA Team in early 2018, as we launch our financial fitness center – an online tool for individuals and employers to evaluate, work out, and hone their financial well-being.  Its earliest form will include an opportunity for user input in future development, so check in periodically at www.financially.fit to give us your feedback.  Until then, enjoy a happy & healthy holiday season and best wishes for a successful 2018!

Craig Joncas

Managing Principal