Welcome, 2021!Submitted by Headwater Investment Consulting on January 15th, 2021
By CB Mason
Mark Nevins, a contributor to Forbes, writes that due to the pandemic, “[o]ur current reality is pretty awful. Countless lives will be lost and damaged. The economic impact and destruction will take years to work through. Nobody really has any idea when and how things will return to normal, and ‘the new normal’ will probably not be anything like what we remember.”
But let’s talk about the good that has come out of 2020.
- Milestones: Janet finished the MACC Leadership program with flying colors (and a beautiful plaque) about the same time as reaching her one-year anniversary with our firm.
- Creativity: I was able to flex my creativity with social media posts about non-profits we manage and highlights about our staff. Instead of planning gatherings, I curated gifts for our clients and local tax professionals, sending treats like vanilla pecans and hazelnuts from 29 Confectionary, puzzle books from Third Street Books, hand-sanitizer (little did I know how valuable THAT would be), and poinsettias from the McMinnville High School Boys Basketball Team fundraiser.
- Unexpected connections: Despite being “stuck at home” for the majority of 2020, more people have “seen” each and reconnected with those further away using virtual platforms like Zoom, GoogleMeet, and FaceTime. Zoom reports daily meeting participants peaked at 300 million people in April 2020. Up from about 10 million daily in December 2019. In my house, not only did we use Zoom for work and school, the virtual platforms were used to teach fitness classes, attend training workshops, watch live-streamed concerts, celebrate birthdays, announce engagements, cocktail hours with friends (some I haven’t seen or talked to since the early 1990s!), board meetings, doctor’s appointments, school conferences, and community meetings. So thanks to the virtual platforms, I was able to watch KISS live in Dubai on New Year’s Eve, a concert I would have never been able to see in the old “normal” world.
- More time with family: Tommy has been able to work from home and be a part of Charlie’s and Rose’s daily routine. I know I enjoyed having my college student home more than expected in 2020 (even if he didn’t really appreciate it).
- Increased savings: After nearly a decade of low levels of savings across the US (where only 6-7.5% of US disposable income was held in personal savings), we have seen an increase in savings. US Disposable income increased over 2020 to nearly 13% of disposable income by November 2020. No guarantees this will be a trend that continues, as I’m sure more than one of you are chopping the bit to travel again.
- New homes: After a drop in April and May, sales of existing homes averaged over 6.1 million homes a month for the rest of 2020, and November sales were about 25% higher in 2020 than in November 2019. Perhaps people were tired of their homes after “staying home, staying safe.” Two Headwater Investment staff members jumped on the “move” bandwagon - Both Janet and Kevin have moved into new houses! (Let’s not think about the packing and unpacking that goes with that…)
- Doing what we do…with a twist: We worked to continue providing the high level of service our clients expect, talking on the phone, meeting on Zoom, and occasionally seeing a few of you for limited in-person interactions.
- Less driving: According to the Office of Highway Policy Information in the US Department of Transportation, “Travel on all roads and streets changed by -12.3% (-35.3 billion vehicle miles) for August 2020 as compared with August 2019.” Scott led our office when it comes to an increase in walking. Based on his daily routine (walking to the office in the morning, home for lunch with Susan, and then back to the office for the afternoon before heading home for the day), Scott walks about 6 miles a day. If anyone wants him on your Virtual walking team, he averages 47 miles a week.
- Resiliency: Despite a global pandemic and a tumultuous election cycle, the financial markets have been weathering the storm. As Kevin Chambers, our lead advisor, stated on our year end note to clients, “For many small businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, [the coronavirus pandemic] was an unlucky turn of events that no one requested. For big publicly traded companies, it acted as an accelerant. Well-run companies like Zoom and Peloton became household names, and the big five tech firms continued their dominant run. Some companies who were already facing their twilight, including JC Penny and Hertz, were unfortunately rushed to restructure or shut down. Companies that focused on things we use at home did well, and those that focus on things we use while socializing or at work did not. It was a year when many people struggled, but others prospered. In the end, pushed by the incredible returns of the technology firms and the arrival of vaccines, the markets were mostly up for 2020.” Talk about financial market resiliency!
- Renewed appreciation: 2020 was difficult for many Americans. In fact, 56% of the people surveyed by Groupon claimed 2020 as the worse year of their entire lives. However, nearly 70% of the same survey of people reported that they appreciate family and friends more than they were at the start of the year. We hope that you have also found renewed appreciation of those around you (stuck in the same house with you or just in general). We at Headwater Investments definitely relate with the 70% in our appreciation of our clients, staff, and community.
 Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis