One of my favorite late night TV show hosts best summarized 2021 in the title of one of his segments: 2021: The least bad year of the last 2 years. When I first saw the title of this segment, it made me chuckle, but I could not overlook how much I actually agreed with it. In 2021, the headlines continued to be dominated by pandemic concerns in addition to concerns around inflation and government debt. However, with the distribution of vaccines and reduction of lockdowns, we were able to see the beginnings of an economic recovery. We have a long way to go as businesses continue to face many challenges including labor shortages and supply chain issues, but in my opinion, 2021 was an improvement upon 2020.
The biggest surprise of them all? Stock market performance. Markets continued to set records throughout 2021 as the S&P 500 Index had a return of 28.7% for the year and the MSCI World ex USA Index, representing developed international markets, increased 12.6%. (For a comprehensive recap of market performance, I highly recommend reading Dimensional Fund Advisors latest article Market Review 2021: A Recovery Amid Challenges by clicking here.)
2021 posed its triumphs and challenges, however, as I set my personal and professional goals for 2022, I reflect upon the lessons I have learned (or perhaps re-learned) in 2021:
- Having an investment philosophy that you can stick with through good times and bad is fundamental to having a successful investment experience.
- The stock market continues to be one of the best methods for investors to fight inflation.
- Record ‘highs’ in the market do not necessarily mean something bad is around the corner.
- Focusing on what you can control, including spending and saving habits and your own human capital, is time and energy better spent than trying to pick the next hot stock or cryptocurrency.
Our world and our day to day lives have fundamentally shifted as a result of the events of 2020 and 2021. However, I believe that every once in a while, and I do mean every once in a while, we need to be jolted or shaken. Our ways of thinking and conducting our lives need to be reevaluated and we need to be challenged. I have learned that this is how we experience growth.
As I mentioned to my team here at Portfolio Advisors before the New Year, I am excited for the future of our firm. Our focus continues to be you, our clients, and enhancing your financial planning and investment experience with our firm. As we look to continue the growth that we experienced in 2021 into 2022, we are in the never-ending pursuit of making the lives of our clients better and our community a better ‘village’ to live in. We thank you for your continued trust and confidence in our firm and we look forward to a prosperous year with you.
Tina Mistry, CFP®