June 24, 2020
There is nothing more embarrassing than getting schooled by my children daily on how to use technology like they do. Of course, they find it highly entertaining! It’s actually quite amazing when I think about it. Ever since my kids were toddlers they were enraptured by technology and have learned how to use it more efficiently than I do. I did not purchase my first computer until I went away to college and I hung out at the library in high school to do research and studying because the Internet had not quite caught on yet. So much has certainly changed over the past couple of decades.
Now, I am not a total technology dinosaur, but I will say it is not something that comes naturally to me. Unlike my kids, my brain is not wired that way and I often find myself learning new things all the time. I recently added a new teammate to my firm and she, being straight out of college, has also given me pointers and tips on computer related matters. When she started a week ago, we could not figure out how to get the office scanner to communicate with her computer. This is a service I happily pay people to help me with but I was determined that we could fix it ourselves. After a few hours of Googling the how-to’s, downloading drivers, and working through what felt like a million settings, we finally got it working properly – and all on our own! I may have done a happy dance because that day we were winning at technology!
Over the past few months it seems as though technology has become an intricate part of our lives. I have had more phone conferences and Zoom meetings on account of being forced to quarantine. Even now it is easy to see that technology has changed the way many of us not only do business, but also how we live. We are educating our children through distance learning, we order our groceries through phone applications and can make changes in real time, and we are being innovators on how to create efficiencies in the workplace to be able to get the job done equal to or better than before. Evolution truly can be mind-blowing.
So, if I am not a lover of technology why am I talking about it so much this week? Because everyone needs to embrace and recognize the potential is has for all of us. One of the most common questions I get today from my clients is where do I see the financial markets and economy headed? As we all know, there are no crystal balls, but I believe it is safe to say that our economy is not strong right now. We are facing high unemployment rates, major quantitative easing measurements, an overwhelmed medical system, and negative economic growth. Having said all of that, it is very difficult for many advisors to wrap our heads around why the markets have rebounded as much as it has over the past several weeks. When we look at the best performing companies lately, they are those that have helped us stay connected and live efficiently by best leveraging technology throughout this pandemic. They also happen to be some of the largest companies in the world. Their positive trajectory has recently pulled the markets forward. The FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are all companies that excel in times like we are living in presently, and looking forward it will be critical to continue to embrace companies that focus on disruptive technologies as part of their core offerings.
The FAANG stocks have been on the rise for the past several years, but at some point in time there will be a new group of stocks labelled by a clever acronym leading the way. Think of the things that we once only believed as fiction in movies. Autonomous cars were inconceivable many years ago, but Tesla is leading the way in manufacturing these vehicles. Amazon has said they would like to provide delivery by drones. My first smart phone was a Blackberry and now they do not exist and Apple leads the way. The innovations could be endless and with the world being forced to adapt to new ways of living through this difficult time, we would be hard pressed to envision a reversal of the progress we have made. Investors are always looking for the next “it” thing group of FAANG stocks. They are out there and will likely be a place where you will want to have an investment footprint in the future.
As with all market activities, performance is never guaranteed, but it is important that as investors, we all look for the opportunities that present themselves for the long term. The key to long term investment success is a high quality and well diversified portfolio, and embracing new ideas for forward thinking endeavors should be included in a part of that. So, as my investment analysts continue their research on the best portfolio ideas and options for my clients, I am going to continue to guard my iPhone with my life since everything is in it, not be afraid to troubleshoot my office technology equipment if I need to, and finish the show I have started binge watching on Netflix with my husband tonight. That alone shows you how life has changed for me since I barely watch television. Since quarantine, like many of us, I have realized that sometimes you just must go with the flow.
Iris Buczkowski is the founder of Birch Wealth Management (birchwealth.com). Original content provided by Iris is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice.