The year 2020 has barely begun and already it’s off to a wild start. The U.S. economy looks much stronger than it did at this time a year ago, and other parts of the developed world appear to have dodged a recession.

The wild card, at present, is the coronavirus, which has already claimed more lives than SARS did in 2003. Since China has acted as the driver of the global economy for the last two decades, a slowdown in the world’s most populous nation could have serious ripple effects.

For financial advisors, the challenges are increasingly complex. As Jim Blase notes in our cover story on page xx, many of the estate plans of affluent clients need to be re-examined.

There is also the matter of the surging stock market. Most people tend to view rising equity prices as a totally positive development. Since March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 has advanced by more than 360%.

Smart advisors know that various issues complicate people’s financial picture as their wealth increases. For starters, many clients who didn’t have a federal estate tax problem two or three years ago now must face that question. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

There is also the income challenge for any client considering retirement. Simply put, as bond and stock prices keep appreciating, the cost of purchasing retirement income rises at the same rate.

Major players in financial services are moving aggressively into the income space. Charles Schwab just unveiled its Intelligent Income solutions. Personally, I’m keenly interested to see what sort of concepts the joint venture between BlackRock and Microsoft produces.

Now it’s time to say a few words about someone very special. After 20 years at Financial Advisor, Dorothy Hinchcliff has left the company.

There isn’t enough space on this page to describe all her positive attributes and contributions. Suffice it to say that in addition to her numerous talents, she also happens to be as nice a person as any of us have ever met. While Dorothy remains a good friend, she will be missed.

We wish her well.

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