January 2022

A Message from our CEO, Joseph R. Schmuckler

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To Our Clients and Colleagues,

Last year, I recall vividly the turn of the new year coming with admonitions of better times ahead. We all thought how could 2021 be nearly as challenging as 2020. I remember casual sayings such as, “Happy New Year, 2021 can’t be any worse than 2020, things will undoubtedly be better.”

One year later, I will leave it to you to decide if that played out or, as I felt, 2021 was kind of like 2020 but with more familiarity.

As we start 2022, I have not heard as much about the year ahead which I conclude is a good thing as it probably means people are grateful. Importantly, the word Gratitude is a noun which, as our English Studies majors tell us, is related to a person, place, or thing; often thought of in action. To have gratitude is not to be gratitude, typical of an adjective that expresses a feeling.

My first thought as we enter 2022 is to have gratitude for many reasons. I find myself being more willing to share that gift than I did this time last year. To be honest, I find most people with whom I have discussed this topic share similar observations and feelings. It is not that everything is perfect, but this year I am sensing appreciation and thanksgiving, which are synonyms for gratitude.

The Bible is clearly full of references to gratitude and one of the most poignant stories with relevance to lessons for us today is the story of Paul giving thanks in the middle of a violent storm in Acts 27. It reads like a modern-day, action-adventure tale with a great ending.

As the story opens, Paul is under guard and imprisoned on a ship bound for Rome. During the long journey, a violent storm arises. While the crew does all they can to keep the ship afloat, after 14 days without food and with no sign of the storm abating, they are ready to give up hope of being saved. That night, an Angel appears to Paul in a dream, assuring him that nobody will die. Even though things look increasingly dire, Paul urges the crew to drop anchor, so everyone can pray and eat. He takes bread, breaks it, and shares it with everyone onboard. The next day, the storm clears, and all the ship’s crew and passengers survive.

I take great comfort from this story for the times we are facing today. Even though we are still amid storms, we can all still be very grateful to be here and to take comfort that the storm clouds will clear.

Our country is holding together despite ongoing challenges. Our businesses remain healthy in the face of inflation, supply chain disruptions and other operational issues. Closer to home, our families are marching forward even though COVID continues to lurk.

So, if you are like me then, without even realizing your feelings, you are touching others and making a big difference. Your positive attitude and actions exhibit gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation. As we say goodbye to 2021, I am confident we all feel a bit older and wiser from having made it through. If I can take the liberty in saying about our collective actions in 2021, “Wow, what a job well done.”

Now entering 2022, we are all feeling a sense of, “… bring it on, we are ready.” The chance to look back over the last year has turned into a feeling of greater confidence by looking forward to this year. While I am not an economist and will leave the market predictions to others, I do think there is something to this confidence given how the year ended; a general period of quiet with markets at all-time highs.

While we can debate policy and direction and priorities tomorrow, today I prefer to believe that things will be fine with Paul’s story of hope very alive in American life today. We have all set our anchor, said our prayers, shared our gifts and we will survive. And because of this we are grateful.

From our family to yours, Happy New Year 2022.

Joseph R. Schmuckler signature
Joseph R. Schmuckler
Chief Executive Officer