Financial Advisors Blake Sheehan ’00, Paul Snyder ’00 Weigh In on 2021 Landscape

Financial advisors Blake Sheehan ’00 and Paul Snyder ’00 met with Calvert alumni this week to review last year’s economic ups and downs and give advice for navigating this uncertain time. During their virtual talk – held yesterday, February 4 – the pair shared emerging financial trends for 2021.
Blake, a partner and portfolio manager at investment firm Brown Advisory, highlighted hallmarks of the 2020 market, notably a low-quality fourth-quarter rally following the presidential election and announcement of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, technology-oriented growth stocks were popular during a year when everything moved online.
Going forward, she said, investors may see lower equity returns, and municipal bonds may face additional risk if local aid does not come from the next stimulus. Stocks owned outside of the United States may also yield new opportunities.
“While the last 10 years have certainly been phenomenal for U.S. equities, it is important to remember that there are long periods of time when non-U.S. stocks outperformed U.S. equities,” Blake said. “We do think that valuations are more attractive in both Europe and the emerging markets, and so there could be opportunities in those markets for some above-average growth.”
Paul, a strategic advisor at Brown Advisory, said that experts have their eyes on President Joe Biden's administration, which will likely implement tax reforms affecting individuals and corporations, rather than estate and gift tax issues.
“We think that Congress will focus on pandemic relief, which they have done,” Paul said. “But also, acknowledging that midterm elections for 2022 are coming up, the Biden administration – if they do choose to move forward with tax legislation, which seems very likely – will need to push that to the forefront as soon as pandemic relief is ‘over’ in their minds.”
“It’s very likely that there will be legislation in the near future,” Paul added.
During yesterday’s discussion, Paul and Blake also weighed in on questions from alumni, including whether it’s wise to purchase a home this year.
“Interest rates are really low, so it’s a great time to have a mortgage, but what that has done is push prices of houses up,” Blake said. “So, inventory is pretty low, and you really want to be careful of where you are looking and that you’re not buying something that is inflated.”
Blake also said that the common “rule” of paying 20 percent of a home’s cost as a down payment may not be ideal for all buyers. Instead, some families might benefit from mortgaging more, putting less down, and investing the remaining amount.
Paul agreed, noting that – since interest rates are low – now could be a good time to take on a manageable amount of debt, like a long-term mortgage.
“It certainly is a great time to have some debt on your balance sheet, whether that is a house loan or a mortgage on a 30-year term at really preferential rates, it’s certainly a good, healthy debt to have,” he said.
Prior to joining Brown Advisory, Blake earned her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. In 2017, she earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As member of Calvert’s Alumni Board, Blake also helps guide our Alumni Association.
Paul previously focused on estate and trust tax planning as an attorney with Thomas & Libowitz P.A. He holds a JD and LLM (Master of Laws) from the University of Baltimore and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware. He is a member of the Maryland Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association, and the Baltimore Estate Planning Council.
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.