Last year may not have been so great for the stock market, but it was a solid year for our firm. We were gratified to see our performance remain fairly strong, at least relative to the overall stock and bond markets. This was thanks largely to our data-driven approach that led us to value stocks, conservative bonds, and alternative investments, all of which performed admirably.
As most of you know, we tend toward the technical side of the investment business and aren’t so great at prospecting for new clients and selling. That results in slower growth and likely reduced revenue for our firm, but we’re quite happy focusing more on delivering a solid service than being an advisor to the masses. Even with moderate growth last year, we still finished up with around $700 million in client assets entrusted to us. We started out fourteen years ago as a very small firm and are now solidly mid-sized. I doubt we’ll ever be a behemoth, even in our local market, but we expect to continue to grow in measured fashion over the years.
The more notable successes at our firm last year involve our team. First, we promoted our two “young guys”. Luca Zambito and Adam Edelstein have each been with us for close to two years and are now full-fledged analysts and portfolio managers, shedding “junior” from their titles. They have also both made significant progress on earning their CFA charters. Both have taken level 2 exams recently and are awaiting results (we’re betting they both passed). After that, there’s just one more level to go. If you Google the CFA program, you’ll get an appreciation of how difficult it is to pass. The success rate on passing all three levels is less than 25%.
Many of you have likely now met our receptionist, Morgan. She joined us fairly early last year and has now had a chance to fully integrate. She’s been great for us and has really taken a lot of the load off of Tarryn, who’s eagerness to pitch in we have grossly taken advantage of over the years. In fact, it turned out that Tarryn needed the help this past year more than ever, as we were graced with a surprise SEC audit. Many advisors live in fear of SEC audits, but with Tarryn steering our compliance program, I have slept well at night. In the end, we got a few compulsory notes about how to clean up our documentation, but the audit went very smoothly thanks to Tarryn’s diligence.
A final, but important change in 2022 was that Chris Cebula was promoted to President of the firm. In reality, Chris has been running day-to-day operations for some time. Our whole staff knows that Chris is the guy to go to with questions, perhaps because of his knowledge of the intricacies of our operations or perhaps because he’s just more patient than me. In any event, he has been our de facto leader for some time, and now it is official.
That doesn’t mean that I am going away or scaling back. I’m still the “spiritual leader” of the firm and spend my time on investment research, client service, growth, and thinking about the long-term strategic direction of the firm. Much of that doesn’t require me to be overseeing our team, and it turns out they prefer it that way.
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