By David Wismer Jerry Wagner, Flexible Plan Investments’ (FPI’s) founder and president, offered this piece of advice to financial advisers and investors in a recent article : “ Have a plan and stick to it. As I’ve written many times, whether it is trying to invest by following headlines, financial talking heads, so-called market experts, or political predictions, none of these sources are likely to lead investors to long-term profits. “Instead, investors need to approach the market with a plan. … Investors have to be disciplined. They have to stick with their plan. … “Having a financial adviser to create your plan and provide counsel at such times can be the difference between success and failure in your investments.” This message was especially relevant during 2020 (and now into 2021), when investors saw continuous and elevated volatility and what was essentially a full market cycle compressed into several months. A “game plan” analogy from the NFL playoffs In the many interviews I have conducted with financial advisers for Proactive Advisor Magazine , I often ask the question, “Do you ever use an everyday analogy to communicate your investment philosophy to clients, especially in the areas of active investment management or managing investment expectations?” For an upcoming article, financial adviser Steve Deppe shared the following relevant observations from an NFL divisional playoff game featuring Kansas City and Cleveland: “When the Kansas City Chiefs hung on to beat the Cleveland Browns on Jan. 17, 2021, and advanced to their third consecutive home AFC championship game, they did so despite playing the entire fourth quarter without their star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. “Chad Henne, the Chiefs’ backup quarterback who replaced Mahomes for the final quarter, hadn’t completed a single postseason pass in his entire 11-year NFL career at the time. Yet with only two minutes remaining and the Chiefs facing critical third and fourth downs—and the outcome of the game still hanging in the balance—head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy put the ball in Chad Henne’s hands and asked him to bring home the victory. “Henne delivered. “The entire world would have asked Henne to hand the football off on third and 14, or perhaps run a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches, but not Andy Reid. Reid wasn’t going to allow the ‘volatility’ at the quarterback position to derail him from his game plan. “Instead, he stuck to it and called the exact same plays he would have if Patrick Mahomes was his quarterback—in the most critical of moments. In doing so, he not only helped the Chiefs secure the victory, but he also provided portfolio managers, financial advisors, and investors a perfect analogy for the greatest investing lesson that 2020 can teach us—the value of sticking to your plan when times get tough.” Mr. Deppe adds, in line with Jerry Wagner’s message, “COVID-related ‘investment bifurcation’ is real, and it’s exemplified by the probable disparity in returns between Investor A, someone who stuck to their investment plan, and investor B, someone who decided to chart a different course in the second quarter of 2020. It’s why teaching our clients the importance of behavioral adherence will always be the name of our game. … “It is my belief and experience that clients are far more willing to stick with an investment plan if a significant percentage of their portfolio incorporates active, or tactical, risk-managed strategies.” As you know, Kansas City went on to win that game by the slim margin of 22-17. The team then defeated the Buffalo Bills in the conference championship game and will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a unique Super Bowl on February 7. This year’s Super Bowl is not only a milestone (the 55th), but the first one played in a participating team’s hosting stadium (Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium), the first one held during the challenges of a pandemic (with limited attendance), and one featuring Tom Brady’s amazing 10th Super Bowl appearance. Recognizing another milestone: FPI’s 40th anniversary On Monday, February 1, Flexible Plan Investments began its celebration of 40 years in the investment advisory industry. You can learn more about it here. Jerry Wagner sends this message commemorating the occasion, along with a special “thank you”: “On our 40th anniversary, we want to thank you for continuing to trust us to serve your investment needs. You are an integral part of our success and inspire us to continue seeking better investment solutions. “Since 1981, we’ve worked hard to offer low-cost dynamically risk-managed investment strategies, powerful portfolio-analysis tools, customized benchmarks to help keep investment portfolios on target, and the world-class customer service our clients deserve. “Thanks again for helping us reach this incredible milestone. We wouldn’t be here without you.” “40 Acts of Giving” I want to mention an important way FPI is marking its 40th anniversary, and how you can help support worthwhile charitable efforts. As part of FPI’s “40 years of innovation with 40 acts of giving” event, all financial advisers and investors who work with FPI are invited to nominate a charity and pledge a charitable gift in any amount. FPI will match donations to the first 40 qualifying charities submitted (with a maximum match of $1,000 total to each organization). Please visit FPI’s anniversary page to learn more and fill out the brief form to nominate a charity important to you. The entire team at Flexible Plan Investments would be honored to have you be part of this charitable giving program. FPI, I am sure, will be equally honored to continue partnering with you in the firm’s next chapters of investment innovation—helping financial advisers and their clients stay committed to their sound and risk-managed investment game plans.