It’s hard to believe the time has already come to bid farewell to 2023. Not only was this past year a pivotal 12 months in the economy and markets, but it was full of important milestones and achievements for our firm as well — achievements that we have our clients and an incredible team of dedicated professionals to thank for.
Let’s take a look back at what 2023 was like for Halpern Financial and what we look forward to in 2024.
Reflections on 2023
Most of us entered this year with a healthy dose of skepticism about the markets. There were talks of recession punctuated by an inverted yield curve, rising interest rates, and high inflation. In fact, two important measures of how we feel about finances and markets—the Investor Sentiment Survey and Consumer Confidence Report—both hit record lows in the first half of 2023. Despite all this real trouble and lack of confidence, markets delivered two very strong quarters!
The second half of the year started very well with strong returns in July, but ended up being a negative quarter punctuated by a terrible September. Interest rates on the 10-year Treasury hit 4.99%, putting a strain on equity markets. When interest rates approach the 5% level, not seen in over 16 years, the risk premium for stocks becomes less desirable. If investors can obtain ~5% returns in Treasuries, the motivation to take on the risk of equity markets for potentially higher returns shrinks. Both the S&P 500 and the DJIA lost -3.3% and -2.1% respectively on the quarter. But this environment offered a terrific climate for capturing higher yields in a secure manner.
Overall, the markets presented numerous challenges this year as a result of geopolitical unrest, high inflation, labor market challenges, and other global factors. But it has taught us that fear often eclipses reality. Despite our entering this year with skepticism and fears of a recession, the markets dispelled those fears with a year that surpassed expectations. This reinforces our conviction that long-term positivity tends to prevail.
Facing unprecedented challenges in the markets, not only did we weather the storm, but we thrived and accomplished incredible things. Here are a few of our most notable achievements over the past year.
Hitting a Billion-Dollar Milestone
Despite its unpredictable and volatile performance, our firm is proud to announce that we crossed the billion-dollar threshold in 2023. We firmly believe that this is a testament to our steadfast investment methodology, resilience as a team, and strategic optimism.
Nurturing Our Team
Our unwavering commitment to excellence has allowed us to continually deliver a high-touch client experience as we reach new and exciting milestones. Throughout 2023, we were able to expand our firm with new key players who are passionate about helping us be the best financial partners we can be for our clients. They’ve proven already that their expertise and dedication are invaluable assets in propelling our firm’s success and the success of our clients.
We’re also incredibly proud of our longstanding team members, many of whom achieved their own milestones this year by acquiring new designations and certifications. Not only are these additional credentials professionally significant to the clients we serve, but they’re also deeply meaningful to our team members and the firm.
Our Final Thoughts on 2023
Looking back at this time a year ago, virtually every analyst, researcher, and expert was predicting a recession in 2023. However, that initial skepticism — further validated by an inverted yield curve — was disproven by a year that certainly surpassed expectations. 2023 taught many investors around the world a valuable lesson: Fear often eclipses reality. Our greatest takeaway from this past year is that we will stick to our convictions—stay dedicated to your investment plan, avoid the widespread calls to time a market and always remember, the uncertainty of the near-term eventually gives way to the positivity of the long-term.
What Can You Expect in 2024?
While predicting the near-term movements of markets is a foolish game, we can see how 2024 is set up to be a period of heightened volatility. Remember, this volatility may still provide a positive result, but the path may be filled with obstacles.
While that may sound like another daunting year ahead for investors, we’re approaching the coming year from a place of resilience and purpose — as we are armed with the lessons learned in 2023 and a steadfast commitment to our vision.
Here’s how we’re going to face the challenges head-on in 2024.
With an understanding that 2024 will likely come with its own set of challenges and turmoil, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of strategic planning in the new year. We understand that short-term volatility is stressful to endure. Our clients win by staying disciplined to their plan.
So often we see talking heads, politicians, and other investors speak negatively about market movements. Though fear may dominate the narrative in 2024, our team of experienced and committed professionals chooses to maintain an optimistic perspective instead. We’ve seen the markets move up and down for decades, which is why we combine lessons learned from history with our extensive investment experience and robust resources to guide our decisions — as opposed to listening too intently to negative rhetoric.
It’s important to remember that while 2023 faced its own set of hurdles, there were still many successes for investors — especially our clients who remained diversified and avoided making impulsive or emotional decisions based on short-term market movements.
Ready for 2024?
Here we are again, at the exciting crossroads between putting a year behind us and starting fresh with an exciting journey ahead. Our firm is proud of the growth and milestones we accomplished in 2023, and we feel well-prepared to guide you through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2024.
We look forward to maintaining our unwavering commitment to growth, resilience, and optimism as we forge ahead and emerge stronger on the other side. If you have any questions about your portfolio or want to schedule time to check in with our team as the new year begins, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.