Each year at this time, I reflect on the year past and create my vision for the next revolution around the sun. Usually, I am having this conversation with myself at the conclusion of our year-end travels and I have some quiet time to think. This year, I am doing my thinking in Lima, Peru.
A few years ago, I asked myself some fairly tough questions—like what do you want from life? Why do you do what you do? What is your mission and how can you fulfill it? Whenever I plan, I reflect back on what I wrote then—My mission in life is to help successful families (including my own) live lives of Abundance, Possibility and adventure (APA). The last part of 2018 was a great step forward in helping me fulfill my mission.
After traveling to many places and learning about other cultures, about five years ago we stumbled upon the idea of visiting Machu Picchu in Peru. I am not certain why we picked that destination but when I mentioned it to my father, his ears perked up. He had always been fascinated with Indian civilizations and their construction. Many years ago, we had visited Chichen Itza in Mexico and he dreamed of seeing the Lost City in Peru. Shortly before we began our adventure to Machu Picchu in 2014, my father was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer. In his honor, but without him, we continued our trip and brought back amazing pictures of our journey.
The next couple of years were very challenging for my dad. He had surgery to remove his esophagus, chemo, radiation and the whole gamut of treatments. He lost much of his hair and about 40% of his body weight but he pushed forward. While he is slower than he once was, he remains active by caring for his garden, shoveling snow (in Iowa!), playing tennis and watching his grandkids grow up.
Last year, I challenged him to go to Machu Picchu. Last week, my Dad, Step- mom, daughter Sarah and my bride Sharon completed that phase in our adventure. My father had not left the US in over 20 years and this trip really opened his eyes to the world.
I believe the experiences we have in life, especially the experiences we have with people we love, are priceless. The mindset of abundance has lead me to take risks that have paid off greatly. The idea of exploring what is possible has forced me to think differently when confronted with a challenge and my belief in adventure has sent my family all around the world. I know I have inspired some other families to see what is possible and plan their next adventure. This is why I do what I what I do.
So, what is in store for 2019? For my company, this should be our best year ever. We have assembled an amazing team of talent and we finally have the capacity for us to expand. With help from my assistant Liz, I have been able to better manage my time. Patrick has freed me up from paperwork and compliance. Jacque has helped many of our clients efficiently process their life insurance applications. Sharon has very thoughtfully curated our client events. Rob has learned my principles as a wealth advisor and has deepened many of our client relationships. We also added a few new faces in 2018—Eloy Nava, Jack Schanne and Frank Francese joined us to service clients from our offices in Connecticut (Nava, Stamp & Co.). Brian Sirota joined us after working for Fidelity Investments and Andrew Trammell came aboard after completing his Master’s Degree in Financial Planning.
We will be kicking off a new look with a new logo and website (coming soon!) We will continue working with our thought partners at Empowered Wealth, The Purposeful Planning Institute, and Magellan Planning Network to bring more to the table for our clients than boring quarterly “reviews” and pie charts. Our focus will be on “financial life management” and how our clients can use our Principles and APA philosophy. Of course, we will not take our eyes off of the markets and our investment process but we will stress “staying the course” especially when everyone else starts to claim, “this time is different.”
Last year I was inspired by reading Ray Dalio’s book Principles: Life and Work. It was particularly interesting because many of my friends work with Ray and have seen the powerful results his style of open-thinking, willingness to be vulnerable and leadership skills has brought to his firm. One of Ray’s key tenets is that we frequently find ourselves in similar situations where we need to make decisions. The best method to make decisions is to look for patterns, evaluate your prior decisions and see if your current situation fits into the pattern. If you have made a mistake in the past, embrace the mistake, own it and learn from it. Ray refers to experiences that we continually confront as “another one of those.” When we learn to recognize those types of occurrences, we create much better outcomes from our decisions.
Our focus in 2019 will be on constant learning by training my team in advanced financial planning techniques, improving our communication skills and developing seamless operational efficiencies. The year kicks off in January at our office with the entire team learning how to help parents prepare their children for the transfer of wealth. Ron Nakamoto from Empowered Wealth will be coaching us on their techniques to help families use their financial wealth to bring them closer together. The following week will feature a two-day training session of estate planning strategies and a day of business skills training from our Magellan Coach, Joe Lukacs. In late January, Rob, Jack and I will be attending the Forum 400 conference in Texas. The Forum 400 is by invitation-only and has been the most advanced estate planning and Life Insurance conference I have ever attended. That’s just January!
Each of our team members will be earning new degrees and designations in 2019. Most of them will travel to conferences to learn about the industry and their specific roles. We will continue our partnership (now in our 17th year!) with Commonwealth Financial Network® helping us to manages the operations and investment side of the business.
We would love to spend more time in 2019 helping families to align their financial resources with their missions in life. We will be looking to partner with families that would benefit from our philosophy, training and experience.
I am privileged to work with this passionate team and our clients all over the country. I am proud of my daughter, Sarah, who has flourished as a freshman at Colorado College. I am grateful for my amazing wife Sharon and her constant support of my passions. I am blessed that my family is not experiencing any health crises. Thank you for allowing me to share, and may 2019 bring you and your family Abundance, Possibility and Adventure.
Cary B. Stamp, CFP® AEP® CAP® AIF®