The Independent Market Observer

Better Together

Posted by Brad McMillan, CFA, CAIA, MAI

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This entry was posted on Oct 14, 2021 1:19:41 PM

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better togetherThis will be a short update as I am in the airport headed home from Commonwealth's Founder’s Club conference. As usual, it was a wonderful experience—good company, great activities, and a spectacular setting. But what struck me at this conference, in particular, was the value of personal contact.

I have been in contact with many of the people here, our advisors and my home office colleagues, repeatedly over the past two years of the pandemic. Between phone calls, Zoom calls, videos, and so forth, it was easy to imagine that the relationships were as solid and people were as well off as they were before the pandemic. Based on the contacts I’ve had, that certainly seemed to be true. Yet when we got face to face, there was much more depth to the story

The Real Deal

When you have a chance to sit down and talk, perhaps with a drink in your hand, you get to hear the real story. You hear about things that don’t seem appropriate for a business session, especially one that is electronically mediated. You have the chance to learn about people’s real lives.

What I am hearing is that it is tough out there. Even as business has revived and, in many cases, grown substantially, we are all struggling with the aftermath of the pandemic and its effects on ourselves and our families. Many people have deep concerns about their loved ones and themselves, concerns that are not going away as the economy reopens. Concerns that they want to talk about—but haven’t really been able to on Zoom.

That is the value of face-to-face interactions and especially the value of community. As I have said many times before, Commonwealth is a unique group of people and a unique community. It has been deeply gratifying to sit and listen to the concerns of my colleagues and friends and to share my own. I am ending this conference season more connected, more concerned, and more supported. I hope everyone coming home from these conferences feels the same.

The Internal Stuff

We are certainly not through the pandemic and its aftermath. The virus is still with us, and the economy has not yet recovered. These are the things I cover regularly on this blog, and we are not out of the woods even as the trees are thinning.

What I haven’t been covering, and didn’t really realize perhaps, is the deeper damage that we are still discovering and coping with. It’s tough out there, well beyond the external stuff. We need to recognize that, even as we spend most of our time on the external stuff. That is, after all, my job and our jobs. Personally, I am going to spend some more time looking at the internal stuff. Finding out my own concerns are pretty universal is both concerning and somewhat freeing. Perhaps if everyone is dealing with it, then we can all take some time to acknowledge just that.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. We are all literally doing the best we can, under very difficult and different circumstances. No one alive has been through this, and no one alive knows exactly how this ends. That is hard, harder than we generally credit. But hard is not impossible.

Better Together

We will get through this. We need to stay safe, to stay sane, and to stay healthy. Most of the focus has been on the first and third points. Personally, I am going to start paying more attention to the second. If I do that—and we do that—then we will indeed get through this together.

And that brings us back to the value of face-to-face communication and why conferences are so essential. We are better together.

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