2024 Annual Client Letter

Just twelve months ago, our annual client letter began with a look back at global markets in 2022. The Dow, the S&P500, and the Nasdaq 100 had seen peak-to-trough declines of 21%, 25%, and 35% respectively over those four quarters. The Fed had just launched its campaign against inflation with the steepest regime of interest rate increases ever seen in its 110-year history, unleashing a bear market in both stocks and bonds. “We know that ‘this too shall pass’” was our optimistic declaration at that bleak time.

The Dow, the S&P500, and the Nasdaq 100 were all in new high ground on a total return basis (including reinvested dividends) by the week before Christmas 2023.I

Why stocks did this is irrelevant to the lessons to be drawn from this experience. There are almost as many theories and explanations of why as there are market commentators. (I would point out, however, that the number of said commentators who successfully forecast both the market action of 2022 and that of 2023 is, to our knowledge, plus or minus zero.)

What should matter most to long-term, goal-focused, plan driven investors is not why this happened, but that it happens. Specifically, that there could be a pervasive and very significant bear market over most of one year, and that those declines could be entirely erased in the following year. Although not always as quick or beautifully symmetrical as the 2022-23 experience, in the largest sense that’s how it works.


  • The economy cannot be consistently forecast, nor the market consistently timed. Thus, we believe that the approach that gives the investor the best chance of maximizing long-term return is to remain invested all the time.
  • We are long-term owners of businesses, as opposed to speculators on the near-term trend of stock prices. Declines in the stock market, though frequent and sometimes significant, have always been surmounted as successful companies ceaselessly innovate.
  • Long-term success depends on making a plan and acting continuously on that plan.
  • The only rational definition of “money” over time is “purchasing power”. The goal of long-term investing can therefore only be the preservation and enhancement of purchasing power.

These will continue to be the bedrock convictions that inform our investment policy, as we pursue your most important financial goals together.

Current Commentary

Long-term disruptions and distortions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are still working themselves out in the economy, the markets, and in society itself. These effects cannot be predicted, much less rendered into coherent investment policy. The central financial event in response to COVID was a 40% explosion in the M2 money supply (aggregate balances of checking and savings accounts and short-term time deposits) by the Federal Reserve in 2021, which caused or contributed to a firestorm of inflation. In 2022, the Federal Reserve implemented the sharpest, fastest interest rate spike in its history. Both stock and both markets cratered in response.

Despite this, economic activity just about everywhere (except in housing) has remained relatively robust. Employment activity has, at least so far, been largely unaffected. Inflation has come down significantly, though not yet close to the Fed’s 2% target. Prices for most goods and nearly all services remain elevated, straining middle-class budgets.

Capital markets recovered significantly in 2023. Speculation now centers on when and how much the Fed may lower interest rates in 2024, and whether these actions will start a recession. These outcomes are unknowable – probably even to the Fed itself – and cannot contribute towards forming a rational long-term investment policy.

Uncertainties abound. Trends in the U.S. federal deficit and the national debt continue to appear to be unsustainable, and Social Security and Medicare appear to be on paths to insolvency unless reformed. The never-ending debt ceiling “crisis” continues, and a bitterly partisan presidential election looms. Military conflict in Ukraine, Israel, and other places continue. The markets will face significant challenges in the year ahead – just as they do every year.

The paramount financial planning concern for 2024 and beyond is inflation. In the long run, the essential meaning of “money” is the ability to purchase goods and services, and keeping pace with rising prices over time is the central tenet of all investing. After all, the impact of short-term price fluctuations pales in comparison to long-term deterioration of purchasing power caused by insufficient growth potential. In 2024 it will be very important for investors to remember that the financial choice is not high or low risk, but really it is risk in the short-run or risk in the long-run.

Despite and because of uncertainty, enduringly successful companies will continue to innovate and maximize shareholder value. Against the media’s perennially pessimistic backdrop, it is all too easy to forget that we live in a time of incredible opportunity and progress.

  • B cells are antibody factories, releasing thousands per second. Last year for the first time, scientists modified some of a patient’s B cells to produce proteins needed to treat their own fatal genetic disease, in an outpatient procedureII, marking a leap in engineering nature.
  • Last December, an American team was able to repeatedly produce nuclear fusion ignition for the first time, consistently creating reactions that released more energy than they consumed. This is a major milestone for the creation of limitless clean energy.III
  • Network support for 3G wireless networks ended in 2022. This technology, introduced in 2001, made possible wireless communications as we know them today. In 2023, we saw the introduction of 5G wireless, which can handle as much data each second as 3G could transmit in about an hour. (Unbelievably, 6G will begin rolling out in 2024.)

Of course, probably the biggest innovation story of all from the past few years is the emergence of advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI). The spectrum of impacts that AI is already having ranges from self-driving cars and smart coffeemakers to hyperautomated manufacturing and dramatic improvements in medical care. AI has already revolutionized the marketing and entertainment industries and is poised to greatly accelerate economic productivity. AI has the potential to lead to irreversible change broad enough to impact most important aspects of life and society, and we just barely scratched the surface in 2023. What remains to be seen is whether AI will be “merely” as transformative as the internal combustion engine and electricity or whether AI will help usher in levels of societal change equivalent to the industrial or agricultural revolutions.

Capital markets represent the only asset that fully captures human ingenuity.

Overall, our recommendations are essentially what they were two years ago at this time, and what they have always been. We look forward to revisiting your most important long-term goals this year. If we find that those goals haven’t changed, we will recommend staying with the current plan. And if our plan isn’t changing, there will most probably be no compelling reason to materially alter your portfolio.

Looking Ahead

In May 2023, Stephanie Meulenberg joined the Acadium team as our Client Services Coordinator. Stephanie is full-time and is in our Bonita Springs office. Born and raised in Naples, FL, Stephanie is a natural at excellent customer service. She plans to begin the process of becoming insurance and securities licensed this year. As Stephanie embarks on her career in financial services, she has already been well received by our clients. We are lucky to have her on the team! Stephanie will be working alongside with Dawna DuClau who has expanded into advanced financial planning expertise over the past several years.

2024 marks the fifth anniversary of Acadium Financial Partners. It is hard to believe that so much time has passed, or that we have enjoyed as much growth as we have over the past several tumultuous years. Your advisors Tom, Lindsey, and Frank are more grateful than ever for the professional family that we have. We feel blessed beyond measure for the opportunity to be a link between our clients and the futures that they cherish, and a channel of peace and knowledge.

As always, we welcome your questions and comments, and we look forward to talking with you soon. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you and your family. It’s a privilege for us to do so.


Frank Hujsa, CFP®, CLU®
Partner, Acadium Financial Partners
27499 Riverview Center Blvd, Suite 108
Bonita Springs, FL 34134

Lindsey Hansen, CFP®
Partner, Acadium Financial Partners
3601 PGA Blvd, Suite 301
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

Thomas Udovich, CFP®
Partner, Acadium Financial Partners
3601 PGA Blvd, Suite 301
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

Any opinions are those of Frank Hujsa, Lindsey Hansen, and Thomas Udovich are not necessarily those of Raymond James. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Acadium Financial Partners is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. One cannot invest directly in an index. The NASDAQ-100 (^NDX) is a stock market index made up of 103 equity securities issued by 100 of the largest non-financial companies listed on the NASDAQ. It is a modified capitalization-weighted index. ... It is based on exchange, and it is not an index of U.S.-based companies. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stocks of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal.

I www.finance.yahoo.com
II https://web.archive.org/web/20231221164834/https:/www.wired.com/story/b-cells-genetically-engineered-immusoft/
III https://www.aol.com/nuclear-fusion-enters-era-major-154033992.html