Market insights and analysis

How dynamic, risk-managed investment solutions are performing in the current market environment

4th Quarter | 2023

Quarterly recap



Current market environment performance of dynamic, risk-managed investment solutions.

I sometimes hate the term “active management.” It’s not because I have become a “buy-and-hold” convert, but because the term has been so corrupted by the financial-services industry.

I can still feel the doorjamb pressed hard against the back of my head, each move causing a painful tug against an errant strand of hair. But I wanted to be there, and I strained to stretch my body upward, fighting the urge to resort to tiptoes.

April 2024 marks the 21st anniversary of National Financial Literacy Month, “a time dedicated to empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary for sound financial decision-making,” notes Money Fit.

Wall Street jazz

Jazz has been a part of my life since the 1960s. I’ve always loved the combination of individuality and collaboration that is specifically a part of the modal, hard-bop version of traditional jazz.

With tax season upon us, investors may be thinking about the most beneficial—and tax-efficient—ways to make charitable donations.

This week is the fourth “anniversary” of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID to be a global pandemic.

My wife, Abby, and I are in the market for a new car to accommodate us and our awesome 2-year-old and 4-year-old girls.

The Declaration of Independence sets out one of our unalienable rights as the pursuit of happiness. Yet there has been much debate over the centuries about what happiness truly is and how we can obtain it.

Have you ever thought about running a family-friendly farm featuring llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, and more? Starting a charter boat business in the Florida Keys or opening a bed-and-breakfast in the Pacific Northwest?

Change is a constant

As has probably been the case for all of you, change has been a significant part of my life. I was fortunate that when I attended college, times they were “a-changin’.”

Last week, iConnections hosted an event in Miami called Global Alts, a gathering of alternative investment managers and allocators. You might be thinking, given my Michigan roots, enduring Miami in January was quite the cross to bear—but someone had to do it.

Jerry Wagner’s recent article, which focused on New Year’s resolutions and Flexible Plan Investments’ approach to goals-based investing, caught my attention.

I visited New York City a few years ago. I sat for over an hour as the plane was prepared and de-iced in the middle of what seemed to be unending snowfall. As I watched the snowflakes dance about outside my window, I was struck by their quick and random movements.

It’s mid-January, and people are still talking about New Year’s resolutions. Although setting goals for the new year was a big deal when I was a kid, I have not thought much about it in the last couple of decades or so.

Regardless of location or team loyalty, I think a part of us all resonates with the Detroit Lions’ recent win over the Minnesota Vikings. That victory not only concluded Detroit’s regular season with an impressive 12-5* record, tying its best performance set in 1991, but it also marked the team’s first NFC North division win since 1993.

Seasonal musings

When I sat down to write this article, my wife was beginning to take down the Christmas decorations. She loves Christmas and tries to make our home as festive as possible for the holidays. When they all come down in January, it is a bit depressing.

The performance of gold has been one of the more interesting asset-class stories of 2023.

December is a great month. It offers a time for both personal and professional reflection on the past year.

But what if …?

I love to meet with clients. Like the bite of a cold wind on a frosty December morning in the Midwest, a meeting with a client can bring an adviser back to the concerns of actual people trying to survive in a real economy.

With tax season on the horizon, investors may be starting to think about the most beneficial—and tax-efficient—ways to make charitable donations.

Stock market warnings and concerns have always been a big part of the financial press. And I get it; no one likes to lose money.

Investors are so different. They pursue different goals. They react differently to changes in the financial marketplace. Some are aggressive. Some are conservative. Sometimes they are very concerned with risk, and other times they seem able to ignore it.

I used to refer to “the elephant in the room” when discussing a significant issue that most investors seemed to overlook. However, my phrasing changed around 2000 when an enlightening study, building on previous research by Ulric Neisser and Robert Becklen from 1975, was completed at Harvard.

I recently looked back at FPI President Jerry Wagner’s article “A ‘living in the moment’ guide to investing.” It’s a great read if you have a few moments.

Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd. (FPI), is proud to have served the investment needs of financial advisers and their clients for 25 years as a turnkey asset management platform (TAMP).

A novice fortune teller eagerly purchased her first crystal ball. On her way home, she accidentally dropped it. She picked it up and thought, “Well, I should’ve seen that coming.”

Since the beginning of recorded history, living in the moment has been valued.

The end of the third quarter kicks off the final stretch of the year. It’s also about the time my family and I take a short trip “up north” to experience the sights and sounds of fall.

It’s hard to believe that summer is already over. But fall has definitely arrived: Temperatures are starting to cool, kids are back in school, and the cider mill near my house is open for business.

“Fiddler on the Roof” is one of the most enduring musicals written. It first previewed here in Detroit in 1964, and I’m sure regional or touring companies will continue performing it in the future for many years to come. And, of course, the movie version is always available!

The one constant of football at all levels is that things are always changing. But the fundamental principles and lessons of the game have endured for decades.

I’ve been dealing with knee problems for several years now. As a result, I started reviewing medical literature looking for options. During my research, I read a blog post by Dr. Kevin Stone of the San Francisco–based Stone Clinic.

Two related themes have been dominating my conversations with investors these days. First, many are worried about how market and economic volatility will affect their investments. Second, they want to discuss index investing.

My brother, Charlie, and his family recently adopted a new furry friend, Buzz. Pictured above, Buzz is a mini goldendoodle. When they brought him home, he was just three months old.

If social media is any indication, this summer’s must-see double feature is “Barbenheimer”—the nickname referring to “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” the two blockbuster movies of the season.

I love traveling to New York City, taking a break from my usual day-to-day routine by riding the subway, walking the crowded streets, and people-watching. I especially enjoy observing the hustle and swift adaptability of the street vendors.

Where I live, it is a summer ritual to load up the SUV or minivan with your children and their friends and spend the better part of a day at one of our local amusement parks.

Whether you are talking to portfolio managers, researchers, financial advisers, or marketing experts in the financial-services industry, the conventional wisdom seems to be that investors are motivated primarily by two emotions: greed and fear.

I was one of the relatively few viewers who watched the MLB All-Star Game last week. The game took place on July 11 at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.

2023 has been a strange year, confounding not only investors but also economic experts and market pundits. At a time when most were bracing for the worst, the U.S. economy has exhibited unexpected resilience.

Summer is in full bloom. It beckons us with open highways and the thrill of new adventures. Families across the nation are gearing up for their much-awaited vacations.

Do these questions ever keep you up at night?

Some time ago, I listened to an interview on Bloomberg radio with Thomas Gilovich, a well-known professor of psychology at Cornell University.

What’s catching the eyes of investors today are some of the highest short-term yields in decades. One-year Treasurys are close to 5%. This is all due to Federal Reserve tightening that has resulted in one of the fastest gains in yields in history.

The efficient market theory asserts that the markets are made up of rational investors and, thus, are so efficient that market pricing cannot be exploited for a profit.

I was reading some history recently that focused on the Second World War. It contradicted a long-held belief. I’d always heard that the Maginot Line was a colossal failure.

My wife and I have become big fans of “Clarkson’s Farm,” a show on Amazon Prime.

The movement of the components of the stock market these days—the companies that make up various indexes—makes me think of the relationship between generals and troops, especially in the days before modern, tactical warfare.

It was 10:30 p.m. A half-drunk glass of rich and delicious Cabernet remained in the goblet before me as the server cleared away our dishes. The shuffled plates contained the remains of beautifully marbled steak.


This morning I was in the doctor’s office to get some blood drawn. The young lady across from me was there for the same purpose and was seconds away from the needle penetrating her skin.