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Robots, Drones, Self-Driving Cars and Bragg Financial

Benton Bragg
March 2017
by Benton S. Bragg, CFP®, CFA

In February, Elon Musk announced that his company, SpaceX, would fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon next year. Musk is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla and the co-founder and chairman of Solar City.

From the SpaceX website:

SpaceX will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the two paying passengers into space aboard one of the company's Dragon spacecraft. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, will be the only people on board what is expected to be about a weeklong trip around the moon, according to Musk, who spoke with reporters during a phone conference today.

"This would be a long loop around the moon … It would skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit further out into deep space and then loop back to Earth," Musk said during the teleconference. "So I'm guessing, distance-wise, maybe 300,000 or 400,000 miles."

Musk said the moon trip will contribute to SpaceX's ultimate goal of establishing permanent Mars colonies. In Musk's words, "The goal for SpaceX, from its founding in 2002, has been to accelerate … space exploration, ultimately with the idea of a self-sustaining civilization on Mars and making humanity multi-planetary. So a critical step along the way is getting to know what it's like to have people in deep space."

Reading Musk's press release about the private space flight, I immediately thought about my grandfather, J. Frank Bragg, Sr., who passed away in the year 2000 having never flown on an airplane. My grandfather was born in 1898, five years before the Wright brothers made their historic flight. While air travel obviously improved in the decades to follow, Grandad always said, "I never got comfortable with the idea of flying." Were he alive today, something tells me he wouldn't be signing up to go to Mars with Elon Musk.

Over his 101-year lifetime my grandfather witnessed tremendous technological change. As a teenager, his family (and the rest of the human race) endured life without such conveniences as automobiles, airplanes, indoor plumbing, central heat, air conditioning, telephones, dishwashers, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, televisions, copy machines, fax machines, computers, the internet, scanners, email, and smartphones. When you asked Grandad what technological change was the best of his lifetime, he would quickly say, "Central heat! Hands down … I'll never chop another stick of firewood." Indeed, he kept the thermostat on at least 80 degrees!

He was a story-teller; my cousins and I spent many hours of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays listening to his tales. After a huge meal of turkey, dressing, broccoli casserole and Grandmom's homemade rolls and watermelon pickles, Grandad would set the heat on 80 and we kids would lie on his den floor in a food-and-heat-induced coma and doze in and out as he told hilarious stories about his "fast driving horse," or "courting a pretty girl over in Henderson" or his job driving a horse-drawn "school-bus-wagon."

What always stood out with his stories, however, were the people in them and the relationships he had with those people. There was a lesson in every story—good over evil, hard work over laziness, love over hate, doing the right thing and keeping your word. When Grandad was in his late nineties my mother asked him what he would change about his life if he could go back and "do it again." After a long pause he simply said, "I'd love more people." No airplane rides for him. Just more relationships with more people.

I think Grandad was right. Nothing is more important than our relationships. And yet, in this world, technological change is coming at an ever-increasing rate. Our interactions with machines will multiply exponentially in the coming years. Drone deliveries, self-driving cars, consumer-controlled kiosks, robotic fast food workers, robo-investment advisors and much more. Should we fear this? Deny it? Resist it? We think not. The coming changes will certainly create challenges (especially with gainful employment) but we are optimistic that the new opportunities and the improvements in quality of life will outweigh the drawbacks.

At Bragg, we've always embraced technology. Wise use of technology has allowed a small firm like ours to remain several steps ahead of the bureaucratic, slow-to-adapt behemoth firms with whom we compete. Our goal is to make it easy for you to do business with us. We'll continue to make investments in our processes and our technology with the goal of making an interaction with Bragg convenient and efficient.

But no matter how much technology we add to our process, we will always prioritize our personal relationship with you. Many of you have told us that our people are the most valuable part of what we offer. We are committed to continually building an extraordinary team to partner with you in the coming years.

With that in mind we'd like to shine a light on our team:

Lynn Araujo Please join us in welcoming Lynn Araujo, CFP®. As a Senior Financial Planner, Lynn will prepare retirement and cash flow projections for clients and advise on tax and estate planning issues. Read more about Lynn here.
Debbie Taylor Congratulations to Debbie Taylor who has been promoted to become our Client Experience Officer. In her new role, Debbie will help us all focus on continually enhancing your experience as you interact with Bragg. Read more about Debbie here.
Emily Rose Sheffield Emily Rose Sheffield has begun her journey toward becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She is enrolled in a year-long course of study that covers a broad range of financial planning topics as well as professional conduct and fiduciary responsibility. Emily Rose will sit for the CFP® exam in March 2018. Learn more about Emily Rose here and read about the CFP® designation here.
T. Ben Rose Ben Rose, CFP®, continues on the path toward becoming a CFA® charterholder. The Chartered Financial Analyst designation is designed for portfolio managers and requires three exams given over a three-year period. Ben successfully completed the CFA Level I exam and is now preparing for the CFA Level II exam that will be offered in June 2017. Learn more about Ben here and read about the CFA designation here.
Stephanie Higgins Congratulations to Stephanie Higgins who has been promoted to Office Manager. In addition to managing our building, Stephanie will continue to greet you by phone or in person when you visit Bragg. Read more about Stephanie here
Beth Tumblison Beth Tumblison recently celebrated 20 years with Bragg Financial Advisors. Beth is a portfolio analyst. She handles all of our portfolio reporting, tax reporting and billing. Read more about Beth here.

And speaking of tenure, take a look at the entire Bragg team here. We're proud of the many years of experience our people have. This experience combined with the many degrees and designations our people have earned allows us to offer you comprehensive and specialized financial advice. Please put us to work! We can't take you to Mars but we can help you accomplish your financial goals and we are here when you need us. Thank you for trusting Bragg Financial.

Benton S. Bragg
Benton S. Bragg, CFP®, CFA
President, Bragg Financial Advisors

This information is believed to be accurate but should not be used as specific investment or tax advice. You should always consult your tax professional or other advisors before acting on the ideas presented here.