Who Are You Going To Call?

Are you curious about whom you should call when you have a question, request, or even a comment?
Here is a list of who to call and when:

Jonathan – extension 103

  • Financial planning questions
Irina – extension 104
  • Investment questions
Jennifer – extension 101
  • Requests for money
  • Any changes you need made to your name or contact information
  • Questions on how to log into your TD Ameritrade or MorningStar portals
In general, please feel free to contact any of the three of us because we can all either help you out or point you in the right direction.

Staff Updates

The great kitchen remodel is finally complete. Jonathan and Sara are relishing the expanded work area, functionality, and beauty of the new space. A couple minor bathroom updates and a replaced deck (the support structure was discovered to be rotten during the kitchen remodel) and they should be set for the foreseeable future. Next up is anticipating the Spring blooms and preparing to attend daughter Ingrid’s college graduation in May.

At the beginning of February, Irina traveled to Portland to attend the CFA Society Portland Annual Investment Strategy Dinner, where she enjoyed a riveting presentation by BlackRock’s Chief Fixed Income Strategist on global economic conditions, monetary policy, yield curve shifts and fixed income strategy. The presentation was quite timely considering the uptick in volatility in both bond and stock markets so far this year. In her free time, Irina is enjoying consuming lots of coffee and studying the material for the upcoming CFA exam in June.

Ocean and blue sky

Beautiful Deception Pass, WA

Jen and John have spent a lot of time on the road the past few months. During the holidays they joined all of the other crazy holiday travelers on the road so they could visit family down south and up north. In January they escaped on a mini vacation and drove up to Whidbey Island, WA to visit Jen’s younger sister and brother-in-law. They were there just in time for some amazing weather, but their trip home was a different story. To get home, they decided to take an extra day and drive down the coast – it rained, hailed, the wind blew like crazy, and waves from the ocean actually brought driftwood and debris onto the road. Since arriving back home they have taken many day trips to the coast but plan to stay in the general area for the time being.

After a little over two years with Journey Tree, Jason is temporarily leaving the workforce to be a stay at home dad with his lovely daughter, Charlie. We greatly appreciate his excellent work helping clients with their financial planning needs and wish him the best. Thanks, Jason.


Market Commentary

The U.S. stock market reached new highs to close out 2017. The S&P 500 stock index was up over 21% last year and already another 6% in January before experiencing some decline in February. Given that the long term average return for the stock market is around 10%, future price appreciation is likely to be much lower. Not to mention that the market has not had a significant drop in almost a year and a half – far from the norm.

As our last commentary detailed, there are numerous indications that stocks are overpriced and vulnerable to substantial losses. The recent acceleration in prices seems increasingly to be the result of speculative fervor (i.e., gambling) rather than a reflection of sound investing principles.

As the accompanying chart demonstrates, corporate earnings are not much changed from 2014.

Asset Prices Not Driven By Earnings Growth

“Since 2014, the stock market has risen (capital appreciation only) by 35% while reported earnings growth has risen a whopping 2%. A 2% growth in earnings over the last 3 years hardly justifies a 33% premium over earnings.” – Doug Kass

The recent steepness of the market’s climb, on top of already high valuations, is reminiscent of previous investment bubbles. Nearly vertical increases in prices are almost always followed eventually by nearly vertical drops.

Speaking of investment bubbles, Bitcoin, the newly popular cryptocurrency, appears to be the latest example of “irrational exuberance.”


“It’s absolutely critical to distinguish the long-term effects of valuation from the shorter-term effects of speculative pressure. Historically-reliable valuation measures are remarkably useful in projecting long-term and full-cycle outcomes, but the behavior of the market over shorter segments of the market cycle is driven by the psychological inclination of investors toward speculation or risk-aversion.” – John Hussman, Hussman Funds

In other words, markets can become irrational (and very risky) in the short run but are ultimately rational in the long run. We are in one of those irrational periods and we continue to err on the side of caution with your investments.

Staff Updates

The Brandt household has been in the midst of a major remodel since August.  The back of the house was expanded to make room for a larger kitchen, a kitchen eating area, and a formal dining room.  What a disruption!  But things are coming together and we are hopeful everything will be completed in time for Sam and Ingrid’s return for the holidays.


Halloween at Journey Tree: Irina, Irina’s son, John, Jason and Jason’s daughter, Charlie

Irina is pleased to have passed Level II of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam this past June.  She celebrated passing by taking a break from studying to join her husband and son on a trip to Australia at the end of August. Tim was invited by several universities in Brisbane and Melbourne to present on various topics related to his research on Australian composers. Irina is now a Level III Candidate in the CFA program and is back stateside and in full study mode.



A note from Jonathan:

We are delighted to welcome Jennifer Paterson to Journey Tree.  She brings many years of administrative experience, organizational skills, and a great sense of humor to the team.  She is already helping to make things run more smoothly.  Welcome, Jennifer!

Jennifer, her husband, John, and their rescue dog, Luna, come to us from Newberg, Oregon.  In Late October, John was promoted to Assistant Store Manager at the Lowe’s here in Eugene and the plans for the big move were set into motion. Jennifer was a bit skeptical about moving to “Duck Country” being that she is an Oregon State alumni but she has found that Eugene is feeling more and more like home.  With the help of Jonathan and Irina she is getting to know downtown Eugene and all that it has to offer.

On the days Jennifer isn’t working, she and John love to travel up and down the Oregon coast, vacation in Hawaii, and spend time together with their little family of three.  When she’s not busy spending time with her husband, she also likes to take Luna for walks, go wine tasting, and visit her 2 sisters, niece, and nephews.