Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love - Honor - Country

1 - Please remember our upcoming event: this coming Monday, June 7, at 1:30pm, we will be showing the classic D-Day movie The Longest Day. The purpose of the event, which we are presenting in conjunction with American Legion Post 250, is to honor our World War Two veterans. Our event coordinator Libbie Johnson reports that we have received RSVPs from over 30 veterans and their spouses. If you know any WWII veterans, please encourage them to call us and reserve their spot -- and please come yourself if you can.

2 - Speaking of veterans, Memorial Day weekend is always a great time to remember the sacrifices made by countless ordinary and extraordinary men and women so that we can enjoy the good life. I spent much of the weekend watching classic war movies, which always helps bring the message home for me.

3 - Juliet and I recently completed two one-day training programs with important technology providers. The first was an in-depth update from AssetBook, the company that provides our portfolio management software (the program that provides our client reports and performance calculations, among other things) at their headquarters in Maryland. The second was a training day in Atlanta with Redtail, which provides our CRM (client relationship management) program. Both systems are vital to our day-to-day operations, and the sessions were very valuable.

Enjoy your week!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Expect Nothing; Place No Bets

The stock market declined again last week, marking the third consecutive week of negative returns.

Many of us have been wondering when the markets would reverse their steady (two years now) upward climb. Such a decline would be natural following any long period of strong gains. A correction is not something to be feared; it is a healthy sign of a functioning market. Trees do not grow to the sky, and stock markets do not rise unceasingly.

There are many factors at work right now that could lead to lower markets ahead. A still-sluggish economy, the procrastination of our governmental leaders regarding the debt ceiling (see article below for more details), worries about inflation, and the results of a prolonged rally are just a few of those factors.

Does that mean that we should expect a bear market? Actually, no. Nor should we expect the bulls to keep running. In point of fact, my recommendation to you -- and my constant personal policy as well -- is to resist the temptation to expect anything at all. I'm not a betting man, and I'm not willing to place bets with my clients' money.

Here's why: The factors mentioned above are all easily discernable to anyone who is paying attention. But, like invisible currents in the atmosphere, there are myriad other influences at work as well. All of those factors -- large and small, visible and invisible -- combine to determine the direction of the markets at any given point in time.

The sentiments and emotions of Wall Street traders and financiers, current events in Washington and Hong Kong and London and Athens and Tripoli -- even events in Tryon and countless other anonymous communities across the globe -- all intermingle to form an ever-changing current that drives the worldwide market.

Nobody can hope to fully understand that current, much less try to predict where it is headed at any given moment. So we don't worry about what we can't change. We just try to position our portfolios for as many possibilities as possible.

Now, consider the amazing fact that we are all part of of the pulsing organism that is the world economy. When you think about it, it really is a wondrous thing -- scary I grant you, but wondrous nonetheless.

Have a great week!


     Last week we introduced you to Bonnie Armstrong, who is working with us from her home base in the Washington, DC area. This week we'd like you to meet Libbie Johnson, our new Event Coordinator and Manager of the Depot Room.
     I never fully introduced Libbie's predecessor, Tabatha Cantrell. Tabatha and I have been friends a long time; she agreed to help jump start our Depot Room project when we made the move in January, and I don't know what we would have done without her. She recently left us to pursue other opportunities, particularly in her specialty of private event planning. We are grateful to Tabatha and expect that we will be working with her on future projects.
     And now we have the great good fortune to be joined by another of my good friends, Libbie Johnson. She brings a wealth of experience and talents to her new position. Best known locally for her work in promoting the vital equestrian economy, she also has extensive experience in marketing and event planning. Most important, she is a go-getter with a great sense of humor and can-do attitude.
     Libbie's skills include writing, (her weekly email newsletter, This Week in Tryon Horse Country, is informative and entertaining) and technology (see her two websites, TryonHorseCountry.org and OurHorsesMeanBusiness.org).
     I'll stop here before I get carried away. Suffice it to say that we are excited to have Libbie on the Millard & Company team!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Special Event for WWII Veterans

On June 6, 1944, about 100,000 American, British, and Canadian troops stormed the French beaches of Normandy to begin the long and bloody process of wresting Europe from the iron grip of Adolf Hitler.

That was almost 67 years ago, and the ranks of those young men -- and indeed the entire population of World War II participants -- is rapidly dwindling. Those still living are in their eighties and nineties. Yet we owe these people so much, it seems appropriate to try to do what we can to show them our appreciation.

In conjunction with the local American Legion Post 250, Millard & Company will hold a special event on Monday, June 6. At 1:30 that afternoon, we will be showing the 1962 movie "The Longest Day," a classic star-studded spectacle that relives the many events of that momentous day. Our new event coordinator, Libbie Johnson (more on her later), has been busily inviting local WWII veterans, and the event is filling up fast.

The event will be pretty simple -- we're just going to watch the movie and have some snacks and fellowship -- but the message is simple as well: thank you.

Once we know how many veterans to expect, we will begin accepting RSVPs from others as well. (The Depot Room has a total capacity of 80.)

Stay tuned for more information about this exciting event.

In other news, the debt ceiling debate is about to kick into high gear (see the article below). Hang on to your hat, and have a great week!


Meet Bonnie:

Bonnie Armstrong (pictured to the right of Juliet) has joined the Millard & Company team as a long-distance special projects consultant. Bonnie lives in the Washington, DC area, but the marvels of modern technology allow her to work from there as effectively as if she were in the office with us. Her role is to help us with back-office projects -- and she is good at it, having worked with other advisors in a similar capacity and having an established relationship with TD Ameritrade. We like her a lot!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Celebrations in Polk County

It was a great weekend for the Millard Family. On a Mother's Day that started out rainy but cleared up just in time for the ceremony, our son Drew graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with about 6,000 of his closest friends. Juliet's daughter Adriana also graduated from Bob Jones University, making it a proud time for Millard & Company.

Each individual graduation is a big "mission accomplished" moment for an entire family -- in Drew's case, nine family members were there to share in it -- but it is also a daunting time of closure and uncertainty for the graduate.

Drew told me that, after four years of college, the most important thing he has learned is that he knows nothing. It seems to me that such a realization may be the best possible outcome of a quality education. If properly viewed, it can lead to a healthy humility and a determination to make a mark on the world in spite of any odds.

Watching the ceremony, seeing the camaraderie between such a large group of young people, and witnessing the rituals and traditions, one is struck by the feeling that each of these new adults, like those of us who have gone before and others who will follow generations hence, is a part of the long procession of history. It sort of puts our everyday endeavors into perspective.

This is the only shot we will get at this week, so let's make the most of it!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rise and Fall

1 - Last Thursday's workshop on rebalancing was very well attended, with a total of 49 clients participating in one of the event's two sessions. Clients seemed to enjoy getting a glimpse into one aspect of the portfolio management process. We are planning to have an ongoing series of educational workshops to keep you informed, and we'll let you know as each approaches.

2 - The price of gasoline seems to be on everyone's mind these days. Read the article below for a good analysis of how those prices got to where they are -- and where they might be headed.

3 - While it's hard to celebrate death, it's even harder to feel anything other than relief at last night's news that Osama bin Laden has been killed by a team of Navy SEALS. For the last ten years, amid near-toxic political rancor, our leaders have remained united on this one goal. During the administrations of two presidents and the changing face of Congress, work has gone on behind the scenes to track down the worst global mass murderer of our generation. It's ugly, it's violent, it's something we don't like to think about -- but the job has been done, and most of us are happy about it. Clearly, the war against terrorism is far from over, but today is a good day to be an American.

Have a blessed week -- and don't forget Mother's Day!