As I reflect on the past year, I have come to the realization many others have had – some things may never return to what was. Those of us in business have tried to build things to be predictable; staffing to be consistent; and products, materials, and supplies to be accessible as well as priced reasonably. Well, not much of that went according to plan, now – did it?!

It’s been quite the journey as we steady our feet, as best we can, from overcoming unfathomable hurdles while learning some tremendous lessons along the way.

1. The Great Resignation. Employees, many of whom with years on the job, are choosing to step away. As I write this, however, we are experiencing a very low unemployment rate of 3.9% which is indicative of our economy expanding. Most employers I speak with are in desperate need of help and are learning how to streamline operations, either in the interim or indefinitely. Lessons learned: efficiencies, resourcefulness.

2. Employee expectations. The pandemic drastically shifted how employees view their work environment – preferring flexibility with the option to work from the comfort of their own home and the ability to better balance their lives. We are also dealing with juggling schedules around COVID outbreaks of employees and their quarantined children, adding to the pressure of fulfilling work deadlines or building completion dates.

Employers unable to be responsive to these factors might play into why many employees are seeking other opportunities. Many companies are looking to expand their reach and hire remote workers due to the lack of candidates in their immediate area, forcing a wider perspective. Lessons learned: responsiveness, adaptability.

3. Technology. We are, collectively, relying more heavily on technology-driven mediums such as Zoom to communicate with our employees, vendors, customers, etc. after face-to-face interactions were abruptly halted. While it’s been a slow crawl out of Zoom fatigue, we still have the challenge of needing the same level of connection brought about by a handshake, lunch outing, or day on the golf course. A big part of what we want to achieve in 2022, is to reconnect with our clients and participants on a more personal level than ever before. Lessons learned: learning new skills, human connection can never be replaced.

4. Supply chain. Accenture, PLC reports no sign of supply chain recovery until the end of 2022. What used to take six or eight weeks for materials now takes 12-16 weeks. It’s not just the construction industry that is feeling the time lag – it’s everywhere. Just try to purchase a car today – new cars are in short supply due to microchip shortages and used cars are selling at 20% higher than you would have seen just a short year ago. Lessons learned: supply and demand basics are center stage.

5. Inflation. According to the central bankers, the inflation rate is expected to be 2.6% by the end this year. Supply will catch up with demand and employees will learn that savings, not spending, will win the day. Lessons learned: the future is bright.

Despite these woes, great things can and have come from them. We had to  pivot rather quickly by becoming more resilient, nimble, and open to new ideas. These factors forced our complacent hands to get out of our comfort zones, think differently, and challenge ourselves – to explore avenues we might not have otherwise chosen. It has also nudged us more towards solidifying employee morale. In essence, and in spite of the uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful moments, the pandemic has made us better equipped at all levels of business.

Charles Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the ones that most respond to change.”

There are businesses, including our construction clients, that have survived and thrived over the last two years. They have adapted by looking for different revenue options and created more efficient business models. They have also had to look at other opportunities to provide a dynamic, rewarding work environment by offering more attractive benefit programs to stay competitive.

Direct Advisors, LLC has also adapted considerably in a short amount of time. We have diversified our offerings and leveraged technology to help become more efficient and accurate in our operations. We have learned that flexibility with our employee schedules is as important to our culture as client service. And, perhaps most importantly, we have learned to not take anything for granted as things can change on a dime.

Our staff looks forward to the challenges throughout 2022 and beyond, with our eyes now wide open to new ideas and ways to accomplish not only our own goals but those of our clients. It might not always be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is!

We wish you all a very productive, profitable year ahead.



Tom Santa Barbara, CPFA®, AIF®
President, Co-Founder