Historic Headlines Remain the Same

I remember my very first conference in this business.

It was 1999 and I got up at 4:00 AM to drive to Birmingham, AL. I don’t remember a lot about the five or six sessions on different investment and tax strategies, but I do remember one very, very clearly.  

The speaker was an advisor on the verge of retiring. He had been in the business for over four decades. To this day I remember and use three specific points he made:

1. He had a stack of newspapers from historically significant events.

JFK’s assassination, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the fall of the Berlin Wall to name a few. It was amazing to go through those newspapers and read the headlines and then look through the business sections.

The lesson was that over the decades – and I would say centuries - newspaper headlines really haven’t changed: war, inflation, political animosity, economic uncertainty. Unfortunately, not much different from today’s headlines, and while they create uncertainty and volatility, it is important to note those swings are short term in nature.

2. Towards the end of the session he showed 2 video clips.

The first was from November 22, 1963: The day of JFK’s assassination. The Dow “plunged 21 points from 732 to close at 711.” The second was from earlier in that same year, 1999, when the Dow Jones closed above 10,000 for the time.

3. His closing statement.

He closed simply by saying,

“Over my 40-year career, despite all the scary headlines and market volatility, I wish I would have had more conviction with my clients to stay invested and buy as the same headlines kept reappearing.”

Driving home that night from Alabama I thought about his career and all that happened in his 40 year tenure. Wow! What an unbelievable time to have the massive responsibility of helping people navigate such historic headlines. I then thought about my career ahead and what might/could happen in the next 40 years and I resolved to be a collector of newspapers just like him.

Little could I imagine, the headlines 23 years in: Y2K, 9/11, the mortgage crisis of 2008, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bush/Obama/Trump/Biden, Hurricane Katrina, and today - Russia invading Ukraine. Little could I imagine a Dow 36,000 despite those headlines.

Dan Klein, CFP®*

Financial Advisor, Senior Partner