To Our Family of Clients,
Last year felt like it would never end. It wasn’t as bad as 2020, but we still felt the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, 2022 felt like a blur. This was ironic because Berkshire Money Management grew fast in 2021, but we made the strategic decision in 2022 to slow down and absorb that growth. We used the year to strengthen partnerships for the company (bookkeeping, compliance, trading) and clients (college planning, tax avoidance, risk management). And, of course, we took the year to focus on continuing education for familiar faces and training new ones.
Money management is a sophisticated skill set. As with any industry, the more specialized the work, the more challenging it is to scale – especially during rapid growth. As a response, we brought on additional team members, many from similar but larger companies.
Prior to COVID-19, BMM had ten employees. By the start of 2022, we had 17 employees; we finished the year with twenty. As a reminder, that hiring occurred when many business owners felt it nearly impossible to find quality employees. I believe that speaks volumes about how BMM treats its work family.
Our team’s growth followed a surge in clients from 550 to nearly 800 (and makes room for more clients).
I thank YOU for that growth. While it’s true that many clients find BMM because their values match the community development and charitable work we do, most of our new clients come to us because of the introductions that YOU make.
You care enough about your friends, family, and neighbors to want to help them, and you trust BMM enough to connect us to them. We take that trust and invest in it. We don’t dump extraneous workloads on the BMM staff. We don’t bring on your friends, family, and colleagues and forget about them. We respect your trust in us, so we doubled our workforce, and continue to invest in education and strategic partnerships.
Our growing team has allowed us to go broader and deeper than ever before. We’re a competitive bunch at BMM. I promise you that I’ll use that growth to strive to be the type of financial advising firm that adds massive value to you, our client.
Always striving to be the best
I suspect we’re doing something right. We won Best of the Berkshires (wealth management) for the 3rd year in a row. Then Rural Intelligence named us Best Financial Advisor for the 2nd year in a row. They honored me with “Best Author” and “Person Who’s Contributed the Most to the Area” awards. I was also humbled to receive the 2021 “Community Hero” award from the Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) this summer for our support of the Elf Warm Clothing Program.
It was a good year for the BMM team, and we appreciate the recognition. We would appreciate your feedback in Google reviews as well. (Here’s how you do it.)
A busy year for me and BMM
While simultaneously writing once a week for The Berkshire Edge and twice a month for the Berkshire Eagle, my second book was published – Don’t Run Out of Money In Retirement: How to increase income, avoid taxes, and keep more of what is yours. We can send you the e-version, or you can buy the hard copy on Amazon. (Supply chain issues restricted the number of printed copies.)
On April 28, 2022, we held the open house for our Great Barrington, MA office. I was happy and humbled to speak in front of the community. I shared how proud we were to have a physical location where we’ve tried so hard to have an impact on the community. I am on the board of the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire, a non-profit organization located in Great Barrington, MA that focuses on developing affordable housing and small business technical assistance.
Giving back to our community
Through the CDSCSB, we tried to bring free Wi-Fi to downtown Great Barrington so that visitors could access community and business information and give residents a break on their bills. But unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be this year. Instead, we shifted that $25,000 donation to provide technical assistance to local small businesses.
Again, we gave $25,000 as a matching grant to the Thanksgiving Angels to help the organization provide holiday meals to 2,000 local households. The only condition was that the gift would be spent with locally owned businesses. Almost the entire BMM team, except for me and my torn meniscus, turned out to help pack and distribute the meals we helped purchase. BMM’ers also teamed up this fall to again buy bags and bags of warm clothing for BCAC’s warm clothing drive as part of our continued effort to help these and so many other worthy organizations strengthen our community.
Work hard, play hard
It was great to get on the road and hit the conference circuit again this year. I presented at three and attended about a half dozen others. That’s part of our continued effort to always be learning. But that doesn’t mean we don’t take the time to enjoy ourselves.
This year we started our “BMM Fun Days,” when we close early one Friday per month and connect without the distractions of deadlines or meetings. The Fun Days turned out to be a bigger hit than I expected. The first one was an Easter Egg hunt. We formed teams, and our competitive side broke out as we all ran around like the fools we are. Our goal was to collect more eggs than the others – and we loved it! Other BMM Fun Days included whacking piñatas, bocce ball, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Bingo.
Looking back on 2022 – notes from the team
While preparing this letter, I asked my team, ”What happened in 2022 that was good/interesting for you? A wedding? A baby? Mice eat your truck wires? Unforgettable vacation? Promotion? Complete embarrassment? Professional designation? Maybe you wrestled an alligator or started a cult?” (Pro Tip: Don’t buy pickup trucks that use soy coating on the wires. The mice will feast on them to the point of the insurance company declaring it totaled! Apparently, Johnny didn’t feel that was a highlight of his 2022.)
Here’s what the folks at BMM shared:
I rang in 2022 with my 20th anniversary at Berkshire Money Management, and I bought my first ever new car after saying goodbye to the BMW I had owned for a record 12 years!
My life really isn’t that interesting. I did join the wonderful team of Berkshire Money Management , sold my home (I am okay with never moving again), and the first of my children moved to Boston. Honestly, that’s enough for one year, hoping 2023 is peaceful for all!
Best decision I made was to reach out to you…So very thankful for a job that I really do enjoy and truly the best co-workers ever! Nothing as crazy as these examples for me, but 2022 was a big year with a big change. I changed careers after 21 years and am happy to work for BMM, an amazing company where I love what I do!
I bought my house in March; and I started an amazing new job with BMM!
Dream vacation to Switzerland.
My husband (Ryan) and I welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world, Rylann Azena Smith! I was promoted to Client Specialist Leader!
Last year, I bought a house; this year, I sold it, and moved in with my fiancé, got married… all in all a pretty boring year!
I had the honor of being my brother’s best man at his wedding in front of all our friends and family. It was a blessing to have everyone together again.
Starting a cult is on my list for 2023. But in 2022, a LinkedIn message from a stranger led to an awesome new job, Jim (my husband) and I fell in love with a fluffy Muppet of a dog, and I surprised myself by making 20 friends at a conference.
Thanks to Allen & BMM for sending me to an Advisor Engine conference in Austin, TX. I took my first airplane flight in May! I can’t say it started off pretty (thanks to Natalie, Holly & Carla- who held my hand and gave me tissues). I survived… and was in total AWE at being in the sky amongst the clouds! Breathtaking! Also, hit the BIG 50 in September! And was completely surprised by my BMM Family with an amazing surprise party & amazing chocolate martinis (my fave)!
I think Nate summed up 2022 the best, “all in all, a pretty boring year.” Yeah, right! Thank you for being part of it. From our BMM family to yours, we wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year!
Berkshire Money Management, CEO & CIO