It’s that time of year, when every major Wall Street bank and investment firm comes out with their predictions for the coming year. Some folks derive a fair amount of enjoyment from reading these reports. While I also find them entertaining at times, it’s important to keep in mind that this literature is nothing more than guesses, wishful thinking, and marketing. They should not be viewed as investment advice and repositioning your portfolio based on their predictions alone is ill-advised.
However, even though I am a bit late to the game, I couldn’t resist making my own personal finance forecasts for the year ahead. A key difference between my 2023 outlook and most others is that my list of ideas will likely come to fruition. Here are some thoughts on how I see 2023 unfolding:
1) In 2023 there WILL be unpleasant news headlines: When bad things happen, the media loves to drum it up. After all, an awful event attracts many more clicks than positive news. More eyeballs mean more ad revenue. It’s a simple business model. The financial media is no different than traditional news outlets. The talking heads will repeat the same bad inflation numbers or stock market declines ad nauseum until there is a fresh piece of negative news they can share with their audience.
Investors should remember that despite what is happening in the world, the markets and humankind have always prevailed. Obsessing over every scary headline will not change that reality. Stay optimistic and, in time, life and your portfolio will get better. They always do.
2) In 2023 there WILL be major global events that nobody predicted: Record high inflation, war, a global pandemic, the implosion of cryptocurrency, the meme stock frenzy, the inability to secure a speaker for the House, and more. There are many things that will take place in the coming year that are unpredictable. These may be negative events, like I just mentioned. It may also be positive news, like a rebound in the economy and a record bounce back in the stock market. It’s not the investor’s job to foresee these big events. That’s impossible. Rather, investors must simply structure their portfolio to withstand whatever awaits us and keep their emotions at bay. Doing so will position them for long-term financial success.
3) In 2023 your know-it-all brother-in-law/friend in shul WILL have a great investment opportunity that they can get you access to: The question I receive most often (after asking me to predict how the market will perform in the future) is if someone should participate in an opportunity suggested by someone close to them. The answer is almost always NO. Envy and speculation are two things that keep the world turning. This won’t change. In social settings, whether it’s at the kiddush club or shul dinner, it is common for people to want to share their investment winners, while conveniently leaving out the losers. These stories make others jealous. After all, who doesn’t like to make tons of money and not take any risks? It’s important to remember that you don’t need “access” to anything special to achieve your goals. Your process should be boring, plain vanilla, and consistent over time. If your strategy represents that level of dullness, then you are likely to minimize your mistakes and build wealth overtime. Don’t let anyone with a hot deal try to convince you otherwise.
4) In 2023 your know-it-all brother-in-law/friend in shul WILL tell you what you should be doing with your personal finances: Remember, personal finance is PERSONAL. What may be sensible for your brother-in-law, may not be relevant to you. The cornerstone of any investment strategy is to lay out your specific goals. Once you define what those are, you can develop a strategy to achieve them. Your brother-in-law may have different objectives, financial circumstances, or lifestyle preferences than you. These differences may necessitate a different strategy. You should look out for your own self-interest and your brother-in-law should look out for his. Someone else’s strategy usually does not make sense for you and your family.
5) In 2023 you will NOT get a pass on math: This is one of those timeless rules that always holds true. It’s worth repeating again every year since it’s foundational to prudently managing your finances. This year, if you cannot afford something, then you shouldn’t buy it. If you really want to buy it, then you need to cut something else from your lifestyle to be able to afford it. Taking out loads of debt is never the right approach. For retirees, if your spending rate is too high, you will increase your probability of outliving your money. For younger folks, you may never be able to retire if you can’t appreciate this concept. Delayed gratification and discipline are not easy, but they are the tried-and-true path to financial success.
6) In 2023 if you plan on making “tactical” moves with your portfolio it will likely NOT work out: Tactical portfolio shifts are synonymous with trying to time the market. You may get lucky over a short period of time. However, this strategy will not work over the long-term. Your portfolio should be structured based on your time horizon, risk tolerance, goals, and personal financial situation. It should not be repositioned because an investment strategist pontificated on how 2023 will have different “investment themes” than 2022. Like everyone else, he doesn’t know what the new themes will be until December. Stay the course and rebalance your portfolio when necessary. Anything more than that is too much.
7) In 2023 many of the predictions by Wall Street thought leaders will NOT be correct, but my advice will be on point: This may seem overconfident, but my job is easier than a market strategist’s. I am not trying to predict the future with any great degree of accuracy. After all, specific stock or market performance is anyone’s guess. Instead, I focused on human behavior that has been consistent throughout time.
Thankfully, the recipe for financial success is no secret and doesn’t require prophetic abilities. The formula to build and maintain wealth is to spend less than you make and invest your savings in a prudent and sensible manner. If you repeat this process for decades, it will lead to building a meaningful level of wealth in the future. Everything else is just noise.
In the meantime, the most insightful remark regarding predictions came from baseball player Yogi Berra who said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
May 2023 be a year of health, wealth, and only good things for you and your family!
Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Shenkman Wealth Management is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Investor Disclosures: https://www.kestrafinancial.com/disclosures.