Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Public markets will continue to go up and down, businesses will continue to thrive or not based on the relevance of the products and services, and negative headlines will continue to attract viewers and listeners.  This week, let’s talk about something else.
View of tallgrass prairie in wintrer
photo by John Kennington

Clifford was born in November 1913, in a farmhouse built in a pasture of bluestem prairie grass.  He was the youngest boy in a family of eight, seven of whom, in something of a miracle for the times, lived to adulthood.  He rode his pony to town to attend school, played on the high school basketball team, and in 1931, became the first in his family to graduate from high school.

This girl Pauline, they called her Polly, had caught his eye and in December 1933, they married in a small ceremony at his parent’s home.  Between February of 1935 and December 1940 their three children, Joyce, Harvey, and John, were born. 

The Great Depression was a tough time to be getting started in life.  Fortunately for Cliff, his father-in-law, Bill, was a supervisor for the railroad, so Cliff was able to get work to support his family.

In ’43, at the age of 30 and with three children at home, Cliff was drafted, shipped to Ft. Lewis, Washington, and then on to the Philippines.  By 1946 he was home, though during his absence, son Harvey had picked up scarlet fever, which led to rheumatic heart disease.  In 1952, at age 13, Harvey passed, creating a hole that lasted for life.

 Pictures from the family of Orville Presley,
Battery A/124th Field Artillery Battalion
Cliff was my mom’s dad, and one of my heroes in life.  Two stories he shared included one about waking up after falling asleep on the ground in the Philippines, to find a big lizard crawling over him. 

The other story was, during Harvey’s illness, owing money to everyone he knew because Harvey’s medicine took almost his entire paycheck.  After the war, they kept milk cows.  Grandpa would skim the cream, store it in five gallon containers, and then take the cream to town to trade.  On one trip, something spooked the horses, and one of the two containers of cream tipped over.  Grandpa said he cried, as the cream was so valuable to them as a trading commodity.

I could fill a book with the lessons I learned from him, or the things he taught me.  Among the things I learned from him was how to bait and set a fishing hook, how to handle guns, how to pitch horseshoes, how to use power tools and how to make ice cream in a hand cranked ice cream maker.  More though, he taught me how to treat a lady and by example, how to care for family, how to live and finally, how to die.

Many of us have been given the gift of someone like this in our lives, whether a parent, a grandparent, another relative or simply someone who took an interest in us and helped show us the way.  Who were these people for you?  Are they still living, such that you can thank them?  If you haven’t had the gift of someone like this, could you be this person to someone else?

We stand, as John of Salisbury said, on the shoulders of giants and to them we owe a debt of gratitude, for what they have given us and what they have poured into our lives.  It is easy for us, then, to agree with the ancient poet who said, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

Quote of the week:

“It is surmounting difficulties that makes heroes.”
                                                                                                Louis Pasteur

Monday, October 17, 2016

Financial Update October 17, 2016

The story of Bass Pro Shops buying Cabela’s caused me to read more about John Morris, the Bass Pro founder.  Springfield MO is just up the street, 180 miles or so, from where I grew up.  Fresh water fishing is abundant in the lakes, ponds, and coal pits of Southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas, Southeast Kansas, and Northeast Oklahoma.   

Those stories of John Morris as a young man brought back many memories from decades ago.  In decades past, coal mining companies in NE Oklahoma would simply dig a hole for the coal beneath the surface, piling the dirt on the ground above.  Once the coal was mined, the pits were left open, and were primarily on private land.  These pits filled with water, and held some of the largest large-mouth base I’ve seen.  These coal pits dotted the landscape and offered excellent fishing.  You simply had to know where they were, and you had to have permission from the landowner to fish the coal pits. 

My cousin Bobby knew where all the coal pits were, and he knew the owners.  He and I spent many summer afternoons in a flat bottom boat, fishing those coal pits.  The memories are hazy at this point, and get better with age.  It seems though, that I recall the sounds of silence, a beautiful golden sun, and the anticipation of the bobber suddenly plunging into the water, as a 5 to 8 lb. large mouth locked on for a snack. 

Those memories are unique to a specific time and place.  But you have your memories of those years, which bring a smile to your face.  What are they?  You are welcome to share them with us, fishing story or otherwise, if you are so inclined, at https://centurionag.blogspot.com/. 

In other news, let’s talk portals, which we referenced in our April update.  Over the years, the transfer of documents has occurred by courier, by U.S. Mail or other post, by fax, and by email attachment.  All of these methods remain available to all of us.  The documents we send to you, and that you send or transfer to us, need to meet two criteria, we believe.  First, transmission needs to be secure.  Second, the transmission tools need to be relevant.   

From a security standpoint, courier and post are the least secure, followed by unsecure email attachments.  Faxes and secured email attachments are more secure.  Portals, with good security protocols, provide the highest level of security, and offer an interface that is familiar to all of us.  

You may always, if you choose, drop information in the mail.  That will remain a tried and true method to get information to us.  When we receive the information, we scan the documents, and shred the hard copies.  We have had a fax number for many years, and will retain it.  We have been using secure file transmission through Sharefile for two or three years, and we will retain the use of Sharefile for secure file transmission for another two or three years. 

Going forward, any communication we prepare for you will be posted to your portal.  For households, this would include documents such as quarterly reports and annual reviews.  The portal could also contain folders for financial statements, tax returns, insurance details, and other documents which touch your finances and our work together.  For non-profits, this would include documents such as quarterly reports, annual reviews, and Investment Policy Statements (IPS).  For plan sponsors, this would include documents such as your Plan Document, Summary Plan Description, Adoption Agreement, IPS (if applicable) Form 5500, our annual review, and committee meeting notes. 

We will also prepare hard copies for any meetings we have with you, until such time as you and we are comfortable reviewing this communication in electronic form.   Note that there will be no “requirement” that you use the portal for document transmission, though we will be promoting its use.  How we receive documents will be left to your discretion, and it is easy for us to manage these documents, regardless of how we receive them.  

Beyond the security of the portal though, is its relevance.  Just about all of us, when we are looking for information, or needing to take action, logon.  Many of us logon to check our bank or other financial institution balance from time to time.  Many of us have also chosen to forego paper statements, instead opting for an email alert that our statements are ready. 

Whether it’s making airline reservations, checking our bank balance, making dinner reservations, receiving results from the doctor, or so many other uses, the first step seems to be entering a pin and password from our smartphone, tablet, laptop, or workstation.  The portal offers the same environment. 

If you have already registered as a portal user, you may access your portal by going to www.centurionag.com, and going to Client Login, at the top right corner of the page.  If you haven’t registered as a portal user yet, let us know, and we will send you the link to do so.  And, this is a collaborative work.  As you use the portal, give us your feedback.  Also, let us know what features you think would be useful, and any feedback about how we structure the sections.  This space is new enough that the vendor partners we use are very receptive to design feedback. 

We look forward to hearing from you. 

Until next month. 

Randy Brunson

For the Centurion Team