Saul, Joe, and I have just returned from our three-day continuing education conference in Naples, Florida. These long days were filled with technical updates: economic briefings including the problems and possibilities in China; bond strategies as the FED considers raising interest rates; and the importance of cyber security for firms like Laurel Wealth Planning. We appreciated the chance to immerse ourselves in examining the prevailing risks and opportunities, and in the potential strategies that can help you meet your goals.
Our last speaker of the conference did not, however, cover a technical topic. Josh Sundquist,age thirty-one and current resident of Washington D.C., lost his left leg to cancer at age nine. At that time, he was given a 50/50 chance of survival.
Yet, nearly two decades later, Josh has gone on to ski racing, including for the 2006 U.S. Paralympic team. After that, Josh returned to soccer, the favorite sport of his youth before cancer and now plays at an international level.
Josh is an impressive young man, well spoken, thoughtful and in terrific physical shape. Ashe reflected on his life and learnings thus far, he told the story of his “at bat” in a church softball game. This was soon after he’d lost his leg and was undergoing chemotherapy. His wore his baseball cap backward, covering his baldness.
As Josh swung the bat, the momentum pulled him round through his new prosthetic leg and he fell. He got himself up, swung, and collapsed again. With two strikes being the limit, hestarted moving off the field, but the crowd encouraged him to continue his at bat. Josh shared with us, "I realize now, that no adult at that game was going to limit a nine-year-old kid who'd just lost his leg and had a 50% chance to survival to two strikes." With his father’s encouragement, Josh stepped back up to the plate and swung thirteen more times before the ball somehow connected with the bat, sending his friend and designated runner dashing off to first base.
As Josh reflected on this history, he shared, to paraphrase, that in life, we mostly don't getjust two strikes. Normally, any limit comes only from ourselves. Josh summed his learnings up, saying to us, “Keep swinging."
Many of you know what it means to keep swinging, whether it is a health issue; a lost relationship; or losing a valued job. There are other types of swinging. In some cases, we have to keep swinging at work to save money when we'd rather be retired. Or, some of us need tofind "new lives" when we retire. Others, when blessed financially, may take several swings before finding meaning in the money.
At Laurel Wealth Planning, we recognize that you may have to "swing" from time to time. We seek to help you keep things as steady as possible during difficulties or transitions. We also "swing" quite a bit on your behalf in another sense, sifting through possibilities, information, and analysis in order to bring you the advice we feel truly fits your situation, goals, and preferences. And, we are honored to do that for you.
This is an area that “swung” into our view several years ago and continues to be a high priority. Joe Downes, MBA, CFP, Wealth Manager, leads this focus for us here at Laurel Wealth Planning. He shares this commentary.
It is clear both from the investments that Raymond James has made in technology, and the scrutiny that the Government industry regulators are now applying, that the issue of protecting your confidential information is a priority at many levels. In a briefing from an industry lawyer who deals with the SEC on a daily basis, we heard that an examination of an investment firm's cyber security policies and procedures is item “number one” during most audits.
Raymond James clearly understands this and has a team of over 100 people dedicated to protecting client information (specifically the "Core Four": Name, Address, Date of Birth, and Social Security number.) In extreme cases, Raymond James partners with agencies like the FBI and Homeland Security in investigating domestic and international threats to client information.
In the briefings at the conference, we heard a good deal of confirmation of protections that we at Laurel Wealth Planning already have in place to minimize the chance of a data breach:
Knowing our clients so well that we may question requests that look unusual. This is a very important protection.
Working with a local, outside technology consulting firm that monitors our computers and networks on a daily basis, watching for and instituting protections against known threats.
Regularly briefing our team members on technology security practices that minimize the chance of data a breach.
However, it is equally apparent, in this area, that no firm can "rest on their Laurels" (pardon the pun), and we will continue to research, adopt, and practice the latest security measures to ensure the proper handling of your information.
Please let us know your comments and your questions. As always, thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you and to be a part of your journey.