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It has been said that perception is worth 80 IQ points. We couldn’t agree more. It reminds us of the sentiment expressed by some of our elders in the past: that you can be smart but lack wisdom and experience. Having perspective is what allowed one to invest conservatively late in 2022, thereby reducing downside and allowing one to then participate in the upside of 2023. Wisdom and experience is what also keeps one from chasing returns in 2023 so one stays properly invested for the long haul. It could be said that it is our experience that operating from a perspective of well-gained wisdom has significant value.

Of course, we alluded to some of the “Fear of Missing Out” and chasing returns in the most recent quarterly letter where we talked about Artificial Intelligence stocks. We truly think history has some wonderful parallels to the “Magnificent Seven” Narratives. The distinguished Research Affiliates group wrote a phenomenal white paper on this called “The Nvidia/AI Singularity: Breakthrough, Bubble or Both”. In this paper they detailed a concept from 2000 called “The Big Market Delusion”, where a narrative about a nascent industry gets ahead of the plausible reality. Simply put, the new paradigm of the “Dot.com Bubble” didn’t help investors because all the good news was fully reflected in the most valuable ten tech stocks of 1999. None of those companies beat the market by the next bull market peak, and only one beat it 23 years later: Microsoft. Furthermore, Microsoft trailed the market for 18 of those years as Steve Ballmer led the company in a mostly listless manner for 14 of those years, and it took a while for the new CEO to set their path higher. To be clear, we agree with the idea that AI can be a disruptive breakthrough, but it can also be a bubble. Bubbles don’t have to be wrong on the narrative but can still be off on the timing. As Research Affiliates indicated, you can be “Too big to succeed” as regulators and competitors become hyper-focused on taking down the leader or at least cutting into their profit margins. If not, then one has to question whether capitalism is broken. Said another way, certainty can be over-hyped, and the only constant is change.               

Moving away from equities, we step into commodities, fixed income, cash and hedged assets. We have mentioned these for years as a way to reduce volatility, and certainly commodities, cash, and hedged assets worked well in 2022, but even fixed income has continued to grow more and more attractive. When you can buy something as conservative as a U.S. Treasury or a CD yielding 5.25% or higher for a year, the decision to take risk on a highly priced equity is more difficult. That being said, we certainly realize investing is never easy when done correctly. Even our call to hold shorter duration fixed income was not easy when the consensus and The Federal Reserve was still preaching lower rates for longer in late 2021. Truly, we are happy with the risk profile, yields, and diversification being provided currently by the assets we are allocating to in the non-equity bucket.

We referenced earlier that with age comes wisdom and perception, but we also realize that sometimes there is a drop-off in the day-to-day management of daily activities. Oftentimes, we joke that as soon as you get all of life figured out and write it down, you forget where you put the piece of paper. To that end, many of our clients use the Vault in eMoney to store vast troves of information such as wills, insurance policies, accounts, estate documents, and anything else they feel vital regarding their final instructions. Our clients have also found it helpful to link accounts held outside of our management to help provide more accurate valuations, which aids in preparation as well. In addition, our team has significant experience identifying important information needed in all aspects of estate planning and we are happy to help in any way possible.

As an administrative note, you may have noticed a change to our website design at www.cfgltd.com. We hope you enjoy it as it was a long and arduous process to navigate all the layers of information security to get it approved. So much so, that we may not go down that road for a long time. From a client perspective our goal was for navigation to be a little more intuitive, but the connection should still be seamless as the links to sites for account information and the Vault are still the same.

P.S. – As a final note, with all of the talk about the “Magnificent Seven”, we think many of those that have not been introduced to the movie should watch it or even the foreign language original “Seven Samurai”. They are all great movies, but one could make an argument the ending is not so good for the “Magnificent Seven”. Could it be the movie has a hidden message that is a cautionary tale for investors?


 

General Compliance Disclosures

Statements made via this letter are the opinions of Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) and its advisors, and are not to be construed as guarantees, warranties or predictions of future events, portfolio allocations, portfolio results, investment returns, or other outcomes. None of the information contained is intended as a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell a specific security, mutual fund, bond, or any other investment. Readers should not assume that the considerations, suggestions, or recommendations will be profitable, suitable to their circumstances or that future investment and/or portfolio performance will be profitable or favorable. Past performance of indices, mutual funds, or actual portfolios does not guarantee future results. Future results may differ significantly from the past due to materially different economic and market conditions. SSI, its affiliates and its officers, directors and employees may from time to time acquire, hold or sell securities mentioned herein.

Investment products and services provided by Synovus are offered through Synovus Securities, Inc. (“SSI”), Synovus Trust Company, N.A. (“STC”) and Creative Financial Group, a division of SSI. Trust services for Synovus are provided by Synovus Trust Company, N.A. The registered broker-dealer offering brokerage products for Synovus is Synovus Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC and an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank and Synovus Trust.  Synovus Trust Company, N.A. is a subsidiary of Synovus Bank.



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