Consumer confidence may be rising, and the U.S. economy might be stabilizing as the President suggests, but it's not yet easy to look forward with optimism. Our view of the future is still clouded by recent experience with the worst economic crisis in decades.

Investors of all stripes are, in a very real sense, paralyzed-gripped by disappointment and frozen with fear. Many advisors are also in a fragile emotional state, saddled with a sense of guilt for recommending portfolios that were seriously damaged by the broad market declines of the past 18 months. In many ways, it's a sort of shared trauma-both sides feel victimized by the financial crisis.

Worst of all, at a fundamental level, trust has been compromised. We have all been turned off by bloated CEO salaries and other questionable business practices that have made headlines in recent months. Investors are disgusted by how much even well-diversified portfolios, which they understood were designed to manage portfolio risk, are down over the past year. Money, after all, has a profound effect on peoples' lives, and the effect hasn't been so good for awhile.

And yet, there may never have been a better time to be in the investment business!

That's because, as painful as they are, wrenching economic downturns are enormously effective at helping us distinguish between what's really essential and what's merely optional in our lives. Recessions have a way of making us prioritize. "Americans at all income levels are finding ways to enjoy themselves without spending at the breakneck pace they have in the past," says Evan Simonoff in the May 2009 issue of Financial Advisor magazine. "The guess here is that this time our desire to save will have more staying power [and] that means it will be a great time to be a financial advisor."

Time To Reassess
This bear market has forced most everyone to reassess their lives and to refocus on what we think is most important. We have been pushed out of our comfort zones. And as we scan the unfamiliar terrain, we are raising our eyes to view newly visible opportunities. I predict that a year from now, while there is much learning still ahead, the vast majority of us will never want to go back to "the way it used to be."

Now is a time to reassess what we are doing and why. Now is a time to look at new investment opportunities and new portfolio designs. Now is a time to begin to reflect our clients' life philosophies in their investment portfolios. Now is the time to deepen trust and enhance the impact we have on the health and well-being of our clients and their families.

The investment stars are aligning in ways that support companies of the future. For many companies, sustainable business initiatives are driving top-line growth-encouraging innovation, increasing sales and improving customer retention. Many companies are now demonstrating how products and services that help customers reduce emissions, save money, lower risks and enjoy more healthful lives create real business opportunities.

And the winds in Washington, D.C., have shifted dramatically. Politics now favors companies working for the common good. As a result, investment capital can be used in transformative ways to catalyze the shift toward a more socially just and environmentally sustainable global economy. The good news is that "there's gold in them thar hills" (profit)!

Entering An Age Of Awareness
While there is a higher-than-usual degree of uncertainty permeating financial thinking these days, there are a few things about which we can be fairly sure. For example, it's not likely that we will be going back to the days of excessive leverage anytime soon; banks are likely to be managed more conservatively; and the government is likely to support things like smart meter and smart grid technologies and alternative energy development including solar, wind, ocean wave, and geothermal.

First « 1 2 3 » Next