The markets are messy, and the Federal Reserve is reconsidering its plans to raise interest rates on a consistent basis in 2016. “Where can I put my money to earn something?” one of my close friends asked me. “I heard on the news I should buy gold, right?”

I shared with her what many advisors and analysts say during troubled times: focus on diversification, lower your expectations, don’t make any hasty moves and keep in mind that investing is a long-term process. She wasn’t thrilled with my answer.

That gave me a bit of a sense of what so many advisors must be going through these days. It also underlined the importance of financial advice and planning to me, especially in times of volatility.

The state of the markets and the latest thinking on asset allocation are highlighted in one of this month’s feature stories, written by Joyce Hanson. A look at what’s going on in China and what these trends mean for rest of the world is explored by Alexei Bayer in his Global Economy column. And Jane Wollman Rusoff discusses how advisors can best work with heirs and other intergenerational clients.

We offer a big congratulations to regular contributor Michael Finke, who teaches financial planning at Texas Tech. Michael has been named dean and chief academic officer of the American College of Financial Services, which provides online training and certification programs for advisors. He writes about opportunities for investors in crowdfunding and what this trend means for advisors in this month’s magazine.

We also are proud to present the second contribution from Scott Stolz of Raymond James in the Annuity Analytics column. Last month, Stolz wrote a very popular and timely article on the impact of the proposed Department of Labor fiduciary standard. This month, he tackles the do’s and don’ts of indexed annuities.

In addition, we are pleased to welcome veteran Wall Streeter Mark Elzweig to Research. In his first Recruiter’s Reflections column, he breaks down the limitations of the breakaway-broker trend.

This month also brings an interview with Paul Hatch, group managing director and head of advice and solutions at UBS Wealth Management, as part of writer Ed McCarthy’s series of interviews with top executives.

In other news, most readers are aware that the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50, which took place in the San Francisco Bay Area — where I live — in early February. The Bay Area was full of extra entertainment (and traffic) before and during the weekend affair.

On Friday afternoon before the big game, I went for my weekly East Bay stroll along the waterfront, which lies directly across from San Francisco. As the sun began to dip behind the mountains, a local bagpiper began to play.

His moving tunes stopped me and others in our tracks, and his music made me recall how important it is to appreciate what we have and how unpredictable life can be. A day later, one of my best friends lost his father, a Navy veteran. And recently, we all learned that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in my home state of Texas.

In our personal, professional and financial lives, predictability is generally preferable to change. As we are seeing with renewed vigor in 2016, that’s just not the way things go most of the time.