As has become an annual tradition, I want to communicate to you the State of the Firm – to reflect upon 2017, share important updates and news, and to look ahead to what we can expect in the coming months and year.
The big news we have to announce is that Marjorie has decided that 2018 will be her last year working with clients and that she will RETIRE at the end of the year! Many of you know that she has been phasing off of client relationships for a number of years now and we, collectively, have been working to ensure that these transitions are as seamless and as comfortable as possible for our clients. Marjorie has had a difficult past 18 months with the loss of her husband and, as you can imagine, is working to develop a new normal for the next phase of her life.
We at FJY are committed to helping her transition to whatever she decides is next…and are very excited for her to be able to start anew as we tend to the legacy that she has created over more than three decades. Almost everything FJY does has been significantly influenced by Marjorie’s experience and wisdom, and her impact on each of us will continue to permeate the advice we give and the clients we serve.
Looking Back to 2017
As you know, we had a number of changes to our team last year. We are very excited for you to meet our new team members during the course of the next few months, if you haven’t already. Alan Ness joined us in June, with more than a decade of experience in the profession (including a couple of years with Marjorie and me at our old firm). Also in June, Evan Meyers started his career as an advisor with us after graduating from Virginia Tech’s financial planning program (and spending a month traveling around Europe). In September, Onari Tariah added a little British flair to our team, moving from Morgan Stanley to our independent side of the advisory world. Most recently, in our Midland office, Jessica Mendoza is using her Texas Tech financial planning degree to help us continue to grow the operations side of our firm in a smart and sustainable way. We are also looking forward to Jon Ludwig re-joining our team later this spring. Jon was one of our Summer Associates last summer, and we are delighted to be welcoming him onboard as an Associate Financial Advisor once he graduates from Virginia Tech.
I also should mention the well-earned promotion of Kelly McNerney to Financial Advisor. Kelly has been an integral part of FJY for almost four years now and she is at the stage of her career where she has earned a larger role in client relationships. The experience and trust that she has developed with clients and her fellow advisors has put her in a position to now give advice and position herself to lead some relationships going forward. A big congratulations to Kelly!
As you know, Laurie Belew, who has run FJY’s Investment Committee for a number of years, emailed all of you last week with our thoughts about the recent market volatility and correction. I think the email captures our thoughts perfectly and reminds us all that such market movements, while never comfortable, are normal in the context of a long-term investment strategy.
As they always do, our Investment Committee continues to evaluate our recommendations based on multi-year, long-term results. Currently comprised of Laurie (chair), Larry, Kelly, Alan, Evan, and me – the Committee spends significant time and effort reviewing our investments and exploring potential new options in different asset classes and markets. Beginning this spring, we will be utilizing our blog to share periodic updates from our Investment Committee meetings in order to provide you with the most current information as to what’s on our radar.
New Tax Law
Of course, the other big non-FJY news of the past few months was the passing of the new tax law by Congress in late December. Their late actions did not give many clients, tax advisors, or financial advisors much time to be proactive with 2017 planning, but a number of the changes will impact clients going forward. Of course, the lowering of tax brackets and doubling of the Federal estate tax exemption will help many of our clients in the short term. One negative was the elimination of deductibility of financial advisor fees. We will be working with you to see if we can be more tax efficient with how you pay our fees going forward.
Washingtonian magazine’s “Top Financial Planners” issue hit the stands in January, and Marjorie and I were once again among those recognized. Marjorie has been named on every one of these lists since the first one in 1994, and I managed to continue my streak as top vote-getter for the third straight issue! This recognition is voted on by our peers in the profession, and serves as a representation of who they would turn to if they were in need of financial advice, and as such, is an honor we hold in high regard.
Our newly promoted Financial Advisor, Kelly McNerney, has become very active in the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce as Secretary of their Young Professionals Committee, and was just recently named to the Board of Directors of the local chapter of the Financial Planning Association to assist with their NextGen outreach. Kelly is an invaluable member of our team and we are excited to watch her career take off!
We are also excited to let you know that FJY hit a milestone that our profession deems to be a measuring stick for success — $500 million of Assets under Management! We are excited about this number but, as you know well, our focus continues to be on planning for our clients’ futures and serving them well. Of course, those assets continuing to grow is important to our (and your) success, but we want to assure you that we will never lose sight of our bread and butter…financial planning advice.
Larry Adams and Matt Hays have worked hard to develop a very interesting platform for our new and potential clients who offer 401k retirement plans to their employees. FJY’s Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) allows companies to offload the many fiduciary responsibilities associated with offering these retirement plans to FJY and its MEP partners in a cost effective manner. If you think that may be of interest to someone you know or to your company, don’t hesitate to ask about our MEP.
From the beginning, educational outreach has been a passion of ours, and a key component of our firm’s planning process and client experience. We are continuing to grow and develop our Educational Event program and have had great success in both our Reston and Midland offices. We love sharing our knowledge, as well as that of some of our colleagues in related professions, and it is great to see both long-term friends and new faces coming out and engaging in discussions on a broad variety of topics. Stay tuned for the unveiling of our 2018 slate of offerings in the not too distant future (Spoiler Alert: my well-received presentation on Smart Strategies for College Planning will be back for two encore performances). If there is a topic of particular interest to you, please reach out and let us know.
Social Media and Website
We continue to expand the information and original content available to you on social media, with Eden Butler very capably leading that effort. Tess Downing is leading an initiative and redesign of our website, which will include the addition of video and audio in 2018. We hope that these efforts, in conjunction with our client portal, will continue to be valuable resources for you to utilize going forward. We encourage you to check regularly and, as always, we welcome your feedback as to how we can make these tools more useful for you.
2018 is already off to an exciting start, and we remain grateful for your continued confidence in us and mindful to keep that bond at the center of every decision we make going forward. We remain committed to providing you the superior service you have come to rely on, and open to continuing the dialogue of how we can strive to best meet your needs in the future.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and we will be happy to provide you with additional information. Here is to a fantastic 2018!