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For ages, we’ve rung bells to mark significant moments.   In medieval times, bells alerted residents of storms, fires, wars and other events, and for centuries church belfries have invited congregants to gather in worship or prayer.  It’s had its place in markets too—for the last 150 years a ringing bell has marked the opening and closing of stock trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

We recently got a bell for the Tschetter Group office, though thankfully not in anticipation of any storms, fires or wars.  Nor do we care to mark anything to do with daily trading of the market.  No, this bell is for you.  In our daily mission to provide optimism about life and money, we’ve long known that our clients are the heroes of our story.  So we’ve established a new Tschetter tradition.  We ring our bell to mark your significant moments, knowing your wins are our wins.  You welcome a new child or grandchild, the bell rings.  You sell a business, realizing the rewards after years of blood, sweat, and tears building it – we ring that bell.  You announce your retirement from a career worth celebrating – more ringing!

We’re happy to report we’ve been doing a lot of bell ringing lately.  Yes, it’s been an extraordinarily challenging year to walk through together, but your resilience has been astonishing.  A number of clients have sold or are nearing the sale of family businesses.  Weddings (COVID-style) and births continue to joyously welcome new members into your families.  And we’ve seen new exciting chapters come to life as retirement marks the close to some remarkable careers.

We’re also pleased to see stock portfolios in great shape as our strategies continue to perform well in a strong market, though the bond market remains challenging and saw pressure to start this year as interest rates moved higher.  This is a near-term negative but long-term positive for bond market returns and something we’ll continue to watch closely.  As you may know, we’d already taken actions to prepare bond portfolios for the eventual move higher in rates.

We said in our last letter that we held a cautious optimism as we kicked off 2021 and we maintain that stance after a strong first quarter for your investments.  We continue to see a number of potential near-term warning signals—namely lofty valuations and some examples of irrationally exuberant investor behavior—while the accelerating rollout of vaccines represents a very real hope that an end to the pandemic may be coming into view.

On the planning front, we’re keeping an eye on potential tax changes being considered by the new presidential administration.  Specifically, we’re focused on potential increases in corporate tax rates, taxes on long-term capital gains (both federal and in Washington state), and various considerations for estate taxes. We’ve seen more opportunities to help clients review business plans, real estate holdings, as well as giving and estate plans with these potential changes and of course we’d love to hear from you or anyone you might know who might need good advice on these fronts.

Hope this finds you enjoying the increasing warmth of these April days, anticipating the official start of Spring.  Thinking back to this time a year ago, the hopefulness of this season feels especially poignant.

Finally, we want you to remember that when something good happens for you, we’re right here ringing the bell and cheering you along.

Throughout my entire career, I’ve been researching investments and managing portfolios, which is a passion, but the real joy for me is connecting that expertise and experience with clients through lifelong relationships. In other words, it’s the “why” and the “who” that turn my crank, not the “what.” Life is most fulfilling when I spend my time and energy in a way that is aligned with what and whom I love. I’m grateful to have that alignment in my work.