The last couple of weeks of the year always quiet down a bit around here, which I like because it gives me some time to reflect on the past twelve months.

Good health immediately comes to mind. It’s something so easily overlooked, but without it, nothing else really matters. Outside of some aches and pains that come with getting older, we here at Legacy have been blessed with good health the past twelve months. Unfortunately, we can’t say that about some of our clients. We’ve lost some precious people this past year and I know many more of you have struggled with illnesses and our thoughts and prayers go out to each of you.

Good relationships also jump out at me. I couldn’t ask for a better group of workers to spend my days with. It’s a wonderful blend of the enthusiasm of youth and the experience and patience of people who have been around the block a few times. And I can’t even begin to explain why we have been blessed with such wonderful, fun and trusting clients to work with. You all make coming to the office each day a pleasure for all of us.

2016 has also been a year of change. Here at the office we have welcomed another member to our “family” when Linda married Ron Wallace in March. Serenity left us in October to pursue other interests. Also in 2016, a batch of new regulations came out of Washington that creates changes in our industry unlike anything we have seen in more than 20 years, and you will all be hearing more about this from us in the near future. Change has seemed to be the word on a national and international level too. Globalization has been replaced by nationalism. We used to try and find things we had in common, but for some reason, in this past year it seems we spent more and more time trying to find things we can disagree on. It’s been going this direction for some time, but it seemed to hit a peak in 2016.

Our “family” here at Legacy continues to grow and bring us joy and all the things that family brings. One of Peggy’s daughters presented her with a new granddaughter earlier this year. My son, Jason, and his wife announced a few weeks ago that they are “with child.” Due in May, “Pops” and “Nana” are excited to meet grandchild #2.

It would be unfair to you if I didn’t spend some time reflecting on the events of the past year and how that will affect our decisions this year regarding your finances. It appears that the U.S. economy is doing well, well enough for the Fed to raise interest rates in December and suggest the possibility for up to three more increases in 2017. The above mentioned rise in nationalism could lead to trading issues between countries, but I doubt it, because we are so interdependent now, that any disruption in trade could be devastating to all economies around the world. With the Republicans controlling the White House, Senate, and Congress, their time to put up or shut up has come. Reducing the deficit, changing/simplifying the tax code, bringing jobs back to the U.S., building up the military, making Social Security and Medicare solvent again, just to name a few, gives them plenty to do. Only time will tell where they focus their efforts. But one thing is for certain. The election in November was a clear statement that people are not happy with business as usual in Washington.

We don’t believe that the events of 2016 really change our long term view of things. We still believe that many of the fundamental headwinds that the economy is facing are still there. These headwinds will continue to keep us in a low return environment. The aging of America will continue to be a drain on resources that could be used for economic growth. Even if dealing with the deficit becomes a Washington priority, it will take years to get it under control. Plus if interest rates continue to rise, then the interest on the debt will rise and suck even more money out of the economy than it is now.

So our strategy continues to be one of having a balanced, diversified portfolio that places a focus on dividend yield.

In closing, I think I can safely speak for Sondra, Peggy, Dan, Jeff and Linda in hoping that your 2017 is filled with good health, good family and good relationships.

Mike Berry is a Registered Representative offering securities through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Legacy Wealth Management, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated. Cambridge does not offer tax advice.

Copyright ©2016 Mike Berry. All Rights reserved. Commercial copying, duplication or reproduction is prohibited.