My Dear Friends,
I’m sitting here, feeling like an old cartoon character from the New Yorker magazine. In the cartoon, I am hunched over my Smith Corona typewriter…and whip out the paper I’m typing on. I replace the paper…and whip it out after a paragraph or two. This happens more than once. More than twice. More…well, it just keeps happening. It’s like watching snowflakes. I’m told that all are different. None are exactly the same. All snowflakes have their own individual beauty. But all can be deadly…or beautiful. It all depends on the situation.
It all depends on…what we see…what we want to see…what matters to us. It all depends….
Most messages have a clear beginning. A clear middle. And a clear ending. As I look out across the current landscape…nothing seems all that clear. That’s a problem, because I know that most of you are depending on me to know what the heck is happening and to make wise decisions about where we go from here.
So let’s skip the beginning and the middle and move directly to the end.
I love our Country. I love the United States of America. As I look around the world, I realize how incredibly blessed I am to have been born in the United States, to have the freedom and opportunities that come with being a United States citizen. And the older I get, the more aware I am of the responsibility I have as an American citizen.
I understand there are ugly places in our history and that some of our so-called “heroes” weren’t all that heroic. But there were heroes who lived good lives. They told the truth. They sacrificed. They risked who they were and what they had, to achieve the dream of a “more perfect Union.” And I believe that there still are heroes among us. We can find them in our community. We can find them sitting on the boards of local charities. We can find them in our schools and churches. We can find them working in various levels of government.
We can find many of their names listed on the brass plaques at the Westerly War Memorial.
None of them would call themselves “heroes.”
We live in a time of conflict and confusion. We live in a time of technological advancement and unbelievable opportunity. As a boy growing up on the family farm, we had a four-party telephone. There were four families on the party line. Incoming calls had either one, two, three or four rings depending on the family being called. We had four rings. There was no such thing as privacy. Any of the four parties could listen in on any incoming call. My younger brother, Charlie, and I had eavesdropping down to a science.
I clearly remember the first time I called Martha from my little boat at the end of Ninigret Pond with a new device called a flip phone. I think it was around 1990. It was wireless and fit in my jacket pocket. Tonight, thirty-some years later, I was taking unbelievable photos of a brilliant sunset with my iPhone 11 Pro Max with the latest software update. It has more power and capability than the first IBM computer I bought for my office. I can call, send messages instantly or compose a letter and mail it. I can even send the sunset photos to a friend. In fact, that’s exactly what I did.
In 1964, Bob Dylan released his third album. The title and lead song was, “The times they are a-changin.” Dylan is 80 years old as I write this. I wonder if he ever imagined how prophetic his words would be.
It’s been about two years since we first heard the words, “Covid-19.” Talk about “Times a-changin.” Oh my goodness. What a change it has brought to all of our lives. Masks. Vaccines. Quarantines. Isolation. Zoom calls. Mandates. Social distancing. Boosters. Confidence. Uncertainty. Washing our hands countless times. Shutdowns. Variants. Remote working. Praying to return to “normal.”
PPG has managed to follow the required protocols through all of this. I can tell you that I am beyond proud of our entire team. They are united in their dedication and commitment to you…our client. You matter. You are why we all show up each day. I think that one of the finest reflections on the quality and purpose of each of the members of our team can be seen in the variety of very significant industry recognitions I have received in recent months. Full disclosure…These rankings may have my name on them, but they are only achieved by the combined efforts of our entire PPG team.
Some of these Recognitions and/or Rankings include:
-2021 Forbes Top 250 Wealth Advisors
-2021 Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisors
-2021 Barron’s Top 1200 Financial Advisors
-2021 Barron’s Top 100 Independent/RIA Advisors
-2021 Barron’s top advisor rankings by State: #1 Financial Advisor in RI
While we feel truly blessed as a firm …the world we all live in is in turmoil. It’s “this way,” or “that way.” Nothing in the middle. Nothing to discuss or negotiate. It is “yes” or “no.” It’s not pretty.
I can only imagine how difficult the current world situation is for you and your family.
So….whether you love Biden….or love Trump….or love neither…Remember that it’s not about either individual.. it is about our country. It’s about our respective families. It’s about our children and grandchildren. We are all Americans. We all share a dream. We believe in freedom and especially freedom of expression. We believe that “all men are created equal.” We believe.
Martha and I were watching the news when a piece came on about Jack Holder. He was 19 years old, stationed in Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He speaks emotionally about clearly seeing the face of the Japanese pilot who flew directly at him and the young men around him, firing his machine gun. He thought he would die right there.
He was raised in Texas in a four-room farmhouse that his father built. It had no electricity, plumbing or running water. His website says that for cleaning duty and personal hygiene, they “used pages torn from the Sears Roebuck catalog.”
It is unimaginable to realize that 2,403 Americans were killed on that day and 19 U.S. Navy ships were destroyed or damaged. Following Pearl Harbor, Jack flew well over 100 important Naval missions in WW II, including the 1942 Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal, including the Solomon Islands, the English Channel and the Bay of Biscayne. Again, the website says, “Over 400,000 American Patriots died in WW II. Jack Holder and his Navy flight crew mates bravely flew every one of those dangerous missions wondering for good reason if each would be their last.”
I urge you to go on Google or DuckDuckGo or whatever search engine you use. Look up Jack Holder. He spent the early part of his adult life flying commercial and corporate aircraft. It wasn’t until his early 90’s that he was able to begin telling his story to high school students so that they might better understand what so many men and women gave to protect and preserve the United States of America.
Jack Holder turned 100 on December 13. He deserves our respect. And more.
Now I’m not so naïve as to suggest that all we need to do is think good thoughts and do good deeds. But I do believe that each of us has the ability to be a positive influence…to make a difference…in the lives of the people around us.
This morning I was driving by the Ocean Community YMCA and stopped to let a gentleman cross in front of me. He was moving a bit more slowly than when I had last seen him. He had been terribly ill but was now recovering. I remember my own prayers for him. I know that countless members of our community were joined in prayer for him and his family. I pulled to the side of the road, rolled down the passenger window and called to him.
“Sam. Sam. It’s so good to see you. How are you doing?” His face seemed to light up as he leaned against the car door. We chatted for a minute or two about nothing really special. Just a couple of old friends re-connecting. “Got to go,” I said. “Please give my best to everyone and please take care of yourself.” He looked at me with a suddenly serious expression. “Thank you for talking with me,” he said. We both smiled as I drove away.
I know exactly what I want to say. I’ve said it before. So…rather than plagiarize, let me simply quote myself:
“Yes, it has been an amazing year. It has been rewarding in so many ways. I don’t think that I can truly express the gratitude and appreciation I feel for the confidence and trust that so many of you have placed in me and our staff over the years. We have shared joys. We have shared sorrows. We have shared pieces of our lives. I have laughed with many of you. I have wept with many of you. And I remember each of you in my prayers. I said earlier that I realize very clearly that what I leave behind really matters to me. Now, don’t misunderstand. I feel great. Dr. Schwindt says I’m in excellent health. I have no plans to go anywhere for a very long time. I think I’m just more aware of the awesome gift that simply having life is…the joy it can bring…and the responsibility it carries. So much more than ‘stuff’.”
So, “Thank you” for these many years. I look forward to spending many more with all of you.
All of us at PPG: Joanna, Lee-Ann, Jennifer, Eileen, Tina, Melissa, Andrea, Stephanie, Shawna, Keri, Mike, Chris, Peter, Dan, Jonathan, Patrick, Giancarlo, our families, my wife Martha and, of course, Reddington and the spirit of Annabelle join me in wishing you and your family a blessed and spirit filled holiday and New Year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah
Additional information, including management fees and expenses, is provided on Professional Planning Group’s Form ADV Part 2, available upon request or at the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure site https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/Firm/108868.
These Third-Party Rankings may not be representative of any one client’s experience and are not indicative of the investment adviser’s future performance. The criteria on which these ratings were based can be found on the respective Third-Party sites.
The Forbes ranking of the Top 250 Wealth Advisors, developed by SHOOK Research, is based on an algorithm of qualitative criteria, mostly gained through telephone and in‐person due diligence interviews, and quantitative data. Those advisors that are considered have a minimum of seven years of experience, and the algorithm weights factors like revenue trends, assets under management, compliance records, industry experience and those that encompass best practices in their practices and approach to working with clients. Portfolio performance is not a criteria due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Out of approximately 33,567 nominations, 250 advisors received the award. Please see https://www.forbes.com/sites/rjshook/2021/08/24/methodology‐americas‐top‐wealthadvisors‐2021/ for more info.
The Forbes ranking of Best‐In‐State Wealth Advisors, developed by SHOOK Research, is based on an algorithm of qualitative criteria, mostly gained through telephone and in‐person due diligence interviews, and quantitative data. Those advisors that are considered have a minimum of seven years of experience, and the algorithm weights factors like revenue trends, assets under management, compliance records, industry experience and those that encompass best practices in their practices and approach to working with clients. Out of approximately 32,725 nominations, more than 5,000 advisors received the award. Please visit https://www.forbes.com/best‐in‐state‐wealth‐advisors for more info. Barron’s Top 1200 Financial Advisors March 2021 ‐ Barron’s is a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P. All rights reserved. The rankings are based on data provided by 4940 individual advisors and their firms and include qualitative and quantitative criteria. Factors included in the rankings: assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, quality of practice and philanthropic work.
Barron’s Top 1200 Financial Advisors March 2021 ‐ Barron’s is a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P. All rights reserved. The rankings are based on data provided by 4940 individual advisors and their firms and include qualitative and quantitative criteria. Factors included in the rankings: assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, quality of practice and philanthropic work.
Barron’s Top 100 Independent Wealth Advisors. Source: Barron’s “Top 100 Independent Wealth Advisors,” September 2020. Barron’s is a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P. All rights reserved. The rankings are based on data provided by over 4,000 individual advisors and their firms and include qualitative and quantitative criteria. Data points that relate to quality of practice include professionals with a minimum of 7 years of financial services experience, acceptable compliance records (no criminal U4 issues), client retention reports, charitable and philanthropic work, quality of practice, designations held, offering services beyond investments offered including estates and trusts, and more financial Advisors are quantitatively rated based on varying types of revenues produced and assets under management by the financial professional, with weightings associated for each.
These rankings are not indicative of an advisor’s future performance, are not an endorsement, and may not be representative of individual clients’ experience. Portfolio performance is not a criteria due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Neither Raymond James nor any of its Financial Advisors or RIA firms pay a fee in exchange for this award/rating. Raymond James is not affiliated with Forbes, Shook Research, LLC, Barron’s